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A pub in Norfolk is in danger due to the presence of the flood-prone road in Britain.
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A pub in Norfolk is in danger due to the presence of the flood-prone road in Britain.

Sometime in the future, reword pls

Now labelled “the most flooded road in Britain”, Birch said he questions whether the 18th-century Lamb and Flag can survive the impact the flooding has on the number of customers coming through his door.

“It has intermittently been shut down since October. For a business to essentially miss out on one third of the year’s trade, it would not be able to survive,” stated the individual who is 71 years old. “Each year, the situation is deteriorating and now it has reached a point of absurdity.”

The water levels have decreased on Monday, and the road is expected to stay accessible until the following winter. However, Birch, along with his wife Gina, has owned and operated the pub for 25 years. He mentioned that the frequent and prolonged flooding has negatively impacted their business, more so than the Covid lockdowns.

Man with grey beard and spectacles stands outside Lamb and Flag pub on cloudy day.

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“The presence of flooding greatly impacts our business as we experience a lack of passing customers, or require a 30-mile detour to reach us. Our weekly steak night, held on Thursdays, typically attracts 50 customers. However, during times of road flooding, we only serve six meals,” explained the individual.

“Unfortunately, while the cost of business operation continues to rise, business rates remain stagnant. My hope of using insurance to cover business interruption was not viable, as I was informed. Unfortunately, we are not receiving any financial assistance at this time.”

² area of flooded land

Welney, a village in Norfolk, is situated on the Ouse Washes. This flooded land covers an expanse of 90,000,000 square meters.3

The flood storage zone is usually submerged during the winter months and directs rainwater from Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire to the ocean.

But the A1101, or the Welney Wash Road, which connects the village to the nearby city of Ely and the rest of Cambridgeshire and is used by about 4,000 cars a day, used to be rarely affected. Now, it spends most of winter submerged by up to 2 metres of water.

According to Birch, in the past, flooding was seen as a minor enjoyment since it only occurred infrequently. However, due to the effects of climate change and the development of flood-prone areas upstream, the volume of water flowing here has significantly increased.

Ken Goodger, a farmer from our community who assists in managing the Welney Flood Watch group, reported that the winter season of 2023-24 was the most severe in terms of flooding.

In October, the rain arrived unexpectedly and caused the water levels to rise rapidly. Since then, there have been a total of four, if not five, instances of floodings. Despite it being created in the 1600s, the system still functions the same way. However, due to increased runoff in the catchment area, rainfall in the UK now has a greater impact.

He frequently received calls to use his tractor to rescue cars stuck in the flood waters. Therefore, the group was formed to provide daily updates on the river’s water levels and advise people on the safety of making the journey.

Sign for Welney below a 30mph speed-limit road sign with a river on one side and a car on the otherView image in fullscreen

The frequency of emergency calls has significantly decreased, yet Goodger stated that the effects on the nearby community were significant.

He suggested that the road should be elevated using stilts. Despite the significant funding allocated to various infrastructure projects across the country, the possibility of building a road over Welney Wash, similar to the tunnel under Stonehenge, remains uncertain due to differing opinions on its importance.

According to Birch, he has received backing from his nearby parliament member, Liz Truss. However, no steps have been taken to address the issue. “Nothing has improved in the past 25 years, except for more frequent and longer periods of flooding,” he stated. “Raising the road seems like the most straightforward solution – I’m not claiming it’s inexpensive, but it is the most cost-effective option. The road is a major thoroughfare when not submerged, but during floods, it becomes a causeway.”

Graham Plant, cabinet member for highways, infrastructure, and transport for Norfolk county council, stated that the Welney Wash Road is a crucial location where the council is actively addressing the issue of potential flooding.

“The issue of flooding along Welney Wash Road is multifaceted and implementing a comprehensive set of mitigations would require a significant sum of £58m. We are currently exploring potential funding options, including government assistance, but unfortunately, there are no immediate solutions for this problem,” he stated.

The council has advocated for governmental approval to construct reservoirs that can collect extra water in the event of a flood.

The Environment Agency acknowledged that the council has been working on plans to decrease the occurrence of flooding in the region. They have offered their technical expertise and guidance.

Source: theguardian.com