Lowestoft floods 'could have been prevented' - report

Flooding at Lowestoft in December 2013 Image copyright David Spalding
Image caption Lowestoft was struck by a tidal surge in December 2013

The Environment Agency has been accused of failing to carry out "urgent" improvements to a town's flood defences - nine years before a tidal surge hit.

A report leaked by an ex-employee shows the agency admitted in 2004 Lowestoft's flood risk had "largely been ignored".

Stephen Day said floods in 2013 could have been prevented if the document's recommendations had been followed.

The agency said it had "some reservations about the quality of the report and needed more evidence".

The report was leaked after East Suffolk Council approved plans for almost 1km (0.6-mile) of flood walls near the town's harbour.

Waveney MP Peter Aldous is still seeking £40m for a tidal surge barrier on the outer harbour.

Image caption Stephen Day claims flooding could have been prevented if his recommendations were followed

Mr Day, who worked as a civil engineer for the Environment Agency, said his 25-page report outlined a £7m programme of flood defence works which he concluded were "urgently needed".

He said: "If they had undertaken the feasibility study within the five years as I had recommended the defences could've been built before 2013 and people would've not been flooded."

Image copyright Michael Hansell
Image caption The tidal surge in December 2013 flooded the town centre, including the cinema

The agency said the 2004 pre-feasibility report for Lowestoft "was not suppressed" and more evidence had been needed "to support its findings".

A spokesman said a follow up report published in 2008 showed the options proposed in the earlier study were "unlikely to be publicly acceptable or economically viable".

He said at the time of the later report, the agency "could not justify, in economic terms, constructing flood walls around the harbour".

But after the 2013 tidal surge, it worked with Waveney District Council (now East Suffolk Council) to provide a temporary barrier solution for the harbour.

Image caption The Environment Agency said more evidence was required to support Mr Day's 2004 report

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