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Bentley JV in for £40m Great Yarmouth flood defence upgrade

23 May 19 Tidal defences in Great Yarmouth are set to receive a £40.3m refurbishment, upgrading the level of protection from tidal flooding to more than 4,500 homes and businesses in the area.

Great Yarmouth and the River Yare
Great Yarmouth and the River Yare

Nearly 4km of flood walls is being improved and updated as part of an Environment Agency project to provide better flood protection for the east coast town.

The first five-year phase of works was completed in early 2017, replacing more than 500 metres of tidal defences. Funding is now in place for the next phase to start later this year.

The next phase is being delivered by JBA-Bentley, a joint venture between civils contractor JN Bentley and consulting engineer Jeremy Benn Associates (JBA), established in 2013. Preliminary work for this new phase of improvements began in February.

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 be underwater.

Great Yarmouth has a history of flooding. During the 1953 east coast tidal surge, the tidal river defences in the town were breached in several places resulting in 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.

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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.

 “We are currently consulting on our flood and coastal erosion risk management strategy and this project is a perfect example of some of the ways in which, by working together, we can make communities more resilient for the future.”

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 through contributions and the provision of compound space.

Environment minister Thérèse Coffey said: “I’m very pleased to see the funding is now in place for this significant improvement to Great Yarmouth’s flood defences. An extra £5.4m of funding was added to our standard Defra grant in view of additional regeneration objectives to allow this project to proceed with important partnership funding contributions. 

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