Investigation launched into catastrophic Christmas floods

The A1101 at Welney is closed due to flooding. Picture: Ian Burt

The A1101 at Welney is closed due to flooding. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

An investigation has begun into the causes of and response to the catastrophic Christmas flooding. 

Norfolk County Council cabinet member for environment and waste Andy Grant said an additional £300,000 had been put in place for urgent flood repairs with a further £250,000 in revenue.

There is also £1.5m in the Capital Budget project. 

The flood water under the rail bridge on Green Lane between Great Plumstead and Thorpe End.

The flood water under the rail bridge on Green Lane between Great Plumstead and Thorpe End. - Credit: Picture: DENISE BRADLEY Copyright: Archant 2021

Mr Grant told Wednesday's scrutiny committee the amount of rainfall in December was "unprecedented", with a month's-worth of rain in 24 hours in some places.

Staff have begun an investigation and will report back in the summer.

Earlier this month, the council's cabinet increased funding for three officer posts to make sure the investigation work could be completed.

And meetings are being lined up with the Environment Agency, Anglian Water, district and parish councils. 

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Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group Steffan Aquarone said: "I think we are likely to see more of this as climate change continues to alter fundamentally the macro weather systems that guide our planet. The problem with water is it does not tend to respect boundaries." 

There were 180 reports of internal flooding reported on December 23-24 alone.

And concerns were expressed over landowners blocking and filling in ditches. 

Mark Ogden, a Norfolk County Council flood team representative, said the levels of risk in the county remained high and negotiations were taking place with landowners where possible as opposed to enforcing action. 

Recent flooding problems in Wymondham, Dereham, Long Stratton, Thorpe End and Thetford were discussed during the meeting. 

Thetford councillor Terry Jermy said he spent Boxing Day moving possessions upstairs at his sister's house as it was at risk of flooding in the town.

Pictures of flooding in Thetford's town centre on Sunday. 

Flooding in Thetford town centre. - Credit: Terry Jermy

Mr Jermy said: "Flooding happens regularly but it felt very much like we had survived a terrible year and then to be unplugging the Christmas tree felt very deflating and emotional.

"I sympathise with everyone who has been through this, it felt like the last straw for my family anyway." 

Concerns have also been raised over ongoing flooding issues in Rackheath, in particular the roundabout on Green Lane West, Salhouse Road and Green Lane East.

Rackheath Parish Council heard a resident had collated local information to highlight the extent of the problem. 

County councillor Fran Whymark, who lives in Rackheath, said a letter has been sent to Highways regarding the ongoing flood issues.

He also expressed concern over additional water running off from the Norwich Northern Distributor Road (NDR) roundabout at Rackheath.  

A Norfolk County Council spokesperson said: “Despite routine maintenance, and additional works carried out over the last few weeks across the county, we know many drainage systems are at capacity as heavy rain has been falling on already saturated ground and full water courses, leading to surface water taking longer to drain away than usual.

"We have inspected this location, which has a soakaway system in place, some hours after heavy rainfall and the road has been mainly clear of standing water.

"We have arranged for our drainage contractor to check, flush and report on this drainage system and we will continue to monitor the situation.”