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Floods minister visits Braunton

PUBLISHED: 18:51 16 May 2014

Minister Dan Rogerson MP listens as Nick Harvey MP discusses the flooding problems experienced by the River Caen in Braunton.

Minister Dan Rogerson MP listens as Nick Harvey MP discusses the flooding problems experienced by the River Caen in Braunton.

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Dan Rogerson MP joins North Devon MP Nick Harvey in the village hit by flooding in 2012 to hear what has improved and what else could be done.

A Government floods minister has been in Braunton today (Friday) to hear firsthand how the village is coping in the wake of the devastating flooding of 2012.

Dan Rogerson MP was invited by North Devon MP Nick Harvey to view the flood prevention work that has gone on since the deluge.

In December 2012 a new £1.2m flood defence scheme was defeated by the River Caen, which flooded more than 60 properties in Caen Street, with several businesses unable to reopen for months.

The scheme has since been upgraded and river clearing work carried out.

The Defra minister and North Cornwall MP spoke to several local business owners to hear their views on effective flood prevention and ongoing difficulties with insurance.

“Nick mentioned this to me and I wanted to come and see firsthand the effect on the community and the businesses,” he told the North Devon Gazette.

“People who have been through an event become the experts because they have that firsthand experience, so it is useful to hear what they think will make a difference.

“We can’t stop rain and coastal flooding events because that’s nature but we can intervene and protect properties.”

Mr Harvey said he believed people in Braunton generally approved of the new flood scheme and the recent upgrades to it: “I think everybody is pleased with the major capital project but the point that’s being made loud and clear is if you don’t keep a regular maintenance effort going you have almost wasted the money on those big schemes,” he said.

“I’m delighted Dan could come and spend an hour here, and we had people from Bishops Tawton as well, which was a really good opportunity for them to put their concerns firsthand to the minister.”

Insurance is a big concerns and while the government’s new Flood Re scheme will enable privately owned homes in flood risk areas to get affordable cover, it does not apply to commercial premises or leasehold properties, something Mr Rogerson said was still being looked at.

Ben Byrom of West Cross Garage has been working with Steve Tattersall to highlight concerns in the village since the 2012 flooding. Today spoke to Mr Rogerson of the concerns of Braunton business owners, including the limitations of the Flood Re scheme: “If someone’s home gets flooded it is devastating but they can still go to work the next day, but if a business is flooded, that family has no income until they get back on their feet,” he said.

Mr Byrom said a fairer balance was needed to take into account businesses as we as private houses. He also raised the question of building on flood plains with Mr Rogerson as well as the need for regular maintenance of the river to prevent further flooding.

“We’re hoping the minister has gone away with these issues and everybody is singing from the same hymn sheet,” he added.

Mr Rogerson also visited the Exmoor Mires Project today, where peat bogs and marshland are being ‘re-wetted’ through the creation of new drainage systems, proving a boon to wildlife but also helping to help slow the run off of flood waters.

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