'Negligence of developers' costing taxpayers over Norfolk flooding

Flooding causes damage in Thetford over Christmas 2020.
Credit - Sonya Duncan

Flooding in Thetford. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Loopholes should be closed so homes in Norfolk do not suffer from flooding - with the government urged to make developers shoulder more responsibility to prevent it.

Former head of the British army General The Lord Dannatt, who chairs the Norfolk Strategic Flooding Alliance and Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman, have written to the government urging changes to the planning system.

Parts of Norfolk were badly hit by flooding over Christmas and the Norfolk Strategic Flooding Alliance (NSFA), was set up in response.

Norfolk peer Lord Dannatt is a member of the House of Lords Select Committee on the Rural Economy. P

General The Lord Dannatt. - Credit: Archant

And Lord Dannatt and Mr Freeman, who set up the Mid Norfolk Flood Partnership earlier this year, have written to environment secretary George Eustice and housing secretary Robert Jenrick urging them to make changes to help tackle problems in the county.

They call for the government to make changes to the planning system which would take away the automatic right for developers to connect surface water to the public sewer.

They said that would mean greater collaboration - and a proper assessment of whether sewers could cope.

George Freeman MP. Picture: Ian Burt

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman. - Credit: Ian Burt

That, the pair said, would stop situations "where developers lazily say they are only liable for drainage and water management on their own development, pay little notice to whether their drainage system will compliment and work well with the wider drainage network in a community, but then deny any responsibility for subsequent flooding that occurs when the local drainage network is overwhelmed."

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And they want planning reforms and changes to the Environment Bill, to put an emphasis on the “legacy” responsibilities of developers in terms of flooding - with penalties for those who dodge those responsibilities.

The pair said: "It is unacceptable for the ‘status quo’ to continue – where developers use loopholes in the system to avoid remedial works to fix their inadequate drainage and water management systems, and instead wait for the situation to get so bad that the local authorities must step in and take measures, at considerable cost to the taxpayer.

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"The taxpayer should not be paying for the negligence of developers."

'Proper, joined up thinking is what is needed'

Earlier this year, people living in and around Burnham Market in North Norfolk suffered from flooded gardens and sewage bubbling out of manholes.

Jason Borthwick, owner of Deepdale Farm at Burnham Deepdale. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Jason Borthwick. - Credit: Archant

Jason Borthwick, managing director of Deepdale Farm and Campsite in Burnham Deepdale, was hugely frustrated by Anglian Water's response to the issue, although the water company said it had "worked tirelessly" to deal with it.

Mr Borthwick welcomed the call for a more collaborative approach to tackling issues.

He said: "It cannot be right that we put in 20, 30, 40 reports and nobody comes out to see it. I was incredibly frustrated by it.

"When we met the guys on site, we felt things were moving forward, but that was months later, after the worst had passed.

"Proper, joined up thinking is what is needed."

Flooding in Burnham Deepdale. 

Flooding in Burnham Deepdale. - Credit: Jason Borthwick

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