Monday, 23 December 2013

The flooding of Blakeney Freshes

Two weeks on from the extreme tidal surges that battered much of the eastern coast of the UK, National Trust rangers and specialist conservation teams have been making progress on the long road to recovery.

Blakeney freshes flooding 9 12 2013-087_1
(Photo courtesy of Mike Page)

National Trust properties were amongst the many on the North Norfolk coast to take the brunt of the tidal surge. This week we caught up with Helen Dangerfield, Head of Conservation at the National Trust in the East of England to get an update…

Severe damage was caused to buildings in Brancaster and on Blakeney Point, as well as extensive flooding of land, including the Blakeney Freshes.

In Brancaster, the Activity Centre was flooded. It has now been emptied of all its contents and the first stages of drying out and repair are being planned.

On Blakeney Point, National Trust ranger teams and volunteers have started making progress on the clear up operation, with repairs being started on the boardwalk that protects the sand-dunes and a clean-up of the iconic lifeboat house is due to get underway once essential safety checks have been completed.

Flooding of Blakeney Freshes has presented the most complex issues after the sea defences were breached in several places, resulting in saltwater flooding these freshwater marshes. We have been closely monitoring the drainage of saltwater off the marshes and have been working with the Environment Agency to find solutions to get the Southern Sluice back into operation.
With further high tides predicted for the new year, it is essential that a viable long-term solution to the management of the marshes is found, and we will be meeting with the Environment Agency and Natural England to review the impacts of flooding as well as working with local stakeholders.

It is essential that any planned works balance both the environmental and wildlife needs of this site, together with an understanding of the potential impacts of future high tides. Further meetings are already planned with the Environment Agency, Natural England and the Norfolk Wildlife Trust as we consider the options at Cley, Salthouse and Blakeney.

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