Devon and Cornwall flood defences: Nearly 100 'failing'

Lostwithiel in 2012
Image caption Lostwithiel in Cornwall has been flooded on several occasions in recent years

Almost 100 flood defences in Devon and Cornwall are failing inspection reports, official data has shown.

Problems were found in Truro, Plymouth, Exeter, and Torbay with issues including damaged weirs, flood prevention walls and drainage channels.

The Environment Agency data showed the majority were in areas where large numbers of homes and businesses could be vulnerable to flooding.

However, the agency said "most of the issues are minor".

Other failures from the agency's latest inspection report included some sea defences, culverts, outfalls and embankments.

Joe Askew, whose antiques shop in Lostwithiel, Cornwall has been flooded three times in the past five years, said: "We need flood defences we can rely on.

"It can ruin our business if we suffer repeatedly, not to mention making our lives a misery."

Places where flood defences have some form of failure:

Cornwall - Hayle, Perranporth, Carbis Bay, Helston, Truro, Wadebridge, Bodmin, Padstow, Pentewan, St Austell, Par, Lostwithiel, Bude, Calstock, Portreath, Porthallow and Mevagissey

Devon - Tavistock, Horrabridge, Plymouth, Lympstone, Ottery St Mary, Exeter, Totnes, Barnstaple, Dawlish Warren, Ilfracombe, Tiverton, Kingsbridge, Teignmouth, Torbay and Clyst St Mary

Source: Environment Agency FOI response

But Steve Douglas, the agency's flood risk operations manager, said: "People should be reassured that most of the issues are minor and will not prevent a flood defence scheme from doing its job.

"If repairs are needed, we carry them out quickly. I'd be happy to live next to one of these schemes.

"If you liken it to a vehicle, it's like when a light bulb breaks or there's a crack on a wing mirror."

Image caption Steve Douglas, from the Environment Agency, said the defences were "well maintained"

He said the defences were "well maintained" and any failure was recorded and repaired.

The inspection report, which was obtained by BBC News through a freedom of information request, lists more than 6,000 flood defences in Devon and Cornwall.

Overall, fewer than 2% are failing, according to the agency's inspections.

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