Work is about to start to upgrade the flood defences against tidal flooding in Great Yarmouth under a £40.3 million refurbishment and upgrade programme to increase the level of protection from tidal flooding to more than 4,500 homes and businesses in the area writes Dag Pike.

Great Yarmouth has a long history of flooding

Great Yarmouth has a long history of flooding

Great Yarmouth has a long history of flooding and during the 1953 East Coast tidal surge, the river defences in the town were breached in several places resulting in significant loss of life. More recently, in December 2013, approximately 9,000 people had to evacuate their homes as a result of the highest ever recorded tide in Great Yarmouth despite improvements to the level of protection. Now close to 4kms of flood walls are being improved and upgraded as part of an Environment Agency project to provide better flood protection for this East Coast town.

The first five-year phase of the works was completed in early 2017, when more than 500 metres of tidal defences were replaced. Now work is starting on the second phase of the works which is being carried out by JBA-Bentley, a joint venture between contractor JN Bentley and consulting engineer Jeremy Benn Associates (JBA).

JBA-Bentley will refurbish 46 flood defence walls across the town to extend their lifespan by up to 30 years. It follows on from the initial five-year phase of work which included the use of a limpet dam to inspect and repair the steel sheet piles that form the flood walls in a dry environment that would otherwise have been underwater.

Environment Agency chief executive Sir James Bevan said: “We have worked very closely with our partners to enable this important project to go ahead. The upgraded defences will ensure that the flood defences in Great Yarmouth provide the best standard of protection to the local community for many decades to come.

The £40.3m investment, plus £6.2m for ongoing maintenance, has come from a range of sources including £32.4m from central government. Partnership contributions have come from New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, £8.2m through the Growth Deal programme, and £2.8m from the Anglian Eastern Regional Flood & Coastal Committee. Norfolk County Council and Great Yarmouth Borough Council have also contributed towards the project and local quayside businesses are supporting it through contributions and the provision of compound space.