Barnstaple flood prevention scheme 'two years away'

News Desk
13 April 2021, Tue
Published: 05:52

Barnstaple flood prevention scheme 'two years away'

A town hit by devastating flash-flooding faces a two-year wait for a protection scheme to be put in place.

Nearly 50 commercial properties and 118 homes were flooded by rain water in Barnstaple, Devon, in August 2020 and residents were rescued by fire crews.

A report presented to North Devon Council on Monday said prevention measures would not be implemented until 2023 at the earliest.

A council spokesperson said no one was "dragging their heels".

A flood investigation report presented to North Devon Council's strategy and resources committee meeting on Monday said significant volumes of surface water overwhelmed drainage systems after torrential rain.

Martin Hutchings, Devon County Council's flood and coastal risk manager, said it often took about five years to implement a prevention scheme.

He said: "This is not because people are dragging their heels but this is how long it takes to get everyone on board.

"We are trying to get it done by 2022/23 and get it done sooner rather than later.

"We want to start looking at detailed designs and put them in place over the next couple of years, but if there are any quick wins, we will try and implement as soon as we can," he added.

'Elephant in the room'
Actions recommended by Mr Hutchings included reviewing highway gullies, for South West Water to continue a maintenance regime and to encourage sustainable drainage practices for new developments.

The report also recommended that Devon County Council continues to progress with surface water investigations and considers opportunities for securing funding for flood improvement works.

Councillors welcomed the report but some warned the sewage network in Barnstaple was not big enough to cope with thousands of new homes which are due to be built.

Cllr Jeremy Yabsley described the issue as "the elephant in the room" and said that a strategy was needed to resolve it. According to BBC reports.