MP warns Houses of Parliament of flood 'devastation' as barrier costs soar by £40m
PUBLISHED: 14:44 21 January 2020 | UPDATED: 14:54 21 January 2020
An MP of a coastal constituency has warned the next incident of major flooding could 'devastate' local infrastructure as it was revealed the cost of new defences had soared by £40m.
Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney, told parliament that the cost of Lowestoft's tidal flood barrier had rocketed from around £30m to £70m.
East Suffolk Council is carrying out the work to address threats in areas like Lowestoft's Kirkley Street and Battery Green.
However an extra £43 million is now needed for a barrier on the eastern side of the town's bascule bridge.
The proposed barrier will cost £43 million as it needs to be built in separate stages to keep the port operational.
Mr Aldous said the flood barrier is of "vital importance" when he raised the issue in an adjournment debate in parliament on Monday, January 20.
He warned if the barrier is not built, floods could devastate the region, damaging vital community assets like schools, doctors surgeries, government buildings and community centres.
"If, although I should say when, we get another storm surge, similar to those of 1953 and 2013, the impact on the town could be profound," he said.
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"Not only could many homes and businesses be badly damaged, but vital infrastructure could, in effect, be taken out. That could include 38 electricity substations, three water-pumping stations, one gas facility, and multiple telecommunications and IT assets.
"Transport infrastructure could also be impacted, including Lowestoft railway station again. Up to a mile and a quarter of rail track and signals would be submerged, the bascule bridge across the port could be seriously damaged."
Mr Aldous added the cost of constructing the barrier will, once completed, generate £195m per year in value, and create more than 11,500 jobs.
Mr Aldous said: "I don't want to be alarmist but the cost of doing the right prevention is pretty minimal compared to the costs after the event.
"There is a general view in Lowestoft that we escaped the 2013 storm surge by the skin of our teeth, and that next time we will not be so lucky."
Flood minister Rebecca Pow said the government is spending an additional £4bn on flood defences nationally, and added: "Lowestoft port is a vital hub for offshore wind. Protecting transport networks and the economic prosperity of the region is clearly important, and it ties in with the Government's wider aims."
The outline programme shows tidal barrier works provisionally starting in 2022 and completing in 2025.