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Norfolk County Council distances itself from Environment Agency’s river reclassification proposals

PUBLISHED: 16:57 21 May 2018 | UPDATED: 16:57 21 May 2018

The Red Bridge which crosses the River Tud Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The Red Bridge which crosses the River Tud Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2016

A scheme to re-classify stretches of water in Norfolk has been labelled “a buck-passing exercise”, as councillors shot the proposals down.

Environment agency based at Haddiscoe,Norfolk.
Picture: Nick Butcher Environment agency based at Haddiscoe,Norfolk. Picture: Nick Butcher

The Environment Agency (EA) approached Norfolk County Council this month proposing it ‘de-main’ four bodies of water in the county - including a 25.4km stretch of the River Tud - reclassifying them as ordinary watercourses.

As a result, flood risk management of these bodies would then lie with the nearest district council - rather than the EA itself.

However, at a meeting of the council’s environment, development and transport committee, members indicated they could not support the scheme which would also have affected a stretch of the River Hun, Tunstall Dyke and Waxham Cut.

Terry Jermy, one of the committee’s Labour members, said: “I am trying not to be cynical, but I see this as a buck-passing exercise on the Environment Agency’s part.”

Terry Jermy, Labour councillor for Thetford West. Pic: Labour Party. Terry Jermy, Labour councillor for Thetford West. Pic: Labour Party.

Stuart Clancy, Conservative councillor and vice-chairman of the committee, said: “Under no circumstances should we be accepting this proposal. It seems to me like Environment Agency cost cutting.

“Not only should we not agree to it, we should not waste any time doing any subsequent work on it.”

Tim East, Liberal Democrat councillor, added: “The problem I have is this could see devolving of dredging and where would the money for that come from?”

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: “Adopting these proposals would allow local bodies and communities to have more say in how their local watercourses are managed and maintained.

“We continue to work with the council to make sure the right people are managing the right watercourses in the right way.”

Committee members were given the choice of three ways to respond to the proposal: Agree to the proposals in principle, pending the outcome of formal consultation; postpone whether to support the scheme until second tier councils have had their say or do not agree with the de-maining proposals, irrespective of the outcome of any consultation.

After councillors debated the matter, they elected for the third option, making it clear they would not be supporting the Environment Agency’s proposal.

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