Residents were given funding for their own flood defences rather than a wall being raised
PEOPLE in Braunton were given funding to implement their own makeshift flood defences — rather than a wall being raised as part of the new flood defence scheme, it has emerged.
Proposals to increase the height of the wall at Hordens Bridge were not included in the new £1.2 million flood scheme for the village, which was completed last summer.
Instead, the owners of five homes were given a share of up to £28,000 to take their own precautions.
Luke Stroud, 36, who owns and lets out Hordens Mill, near Hordens Bridge, said the decision not to raise the wall had led to the flooding in December.
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At one point there was up to three feet of water outside his property.
Mr Stroud said: "Just before they pulled the plan for that wall we received funding out of the individual flood protection scheme."
He used it to brick up his front door and move it to the other side of his property and build a porch with steps.
The improvements did what they were designed to do but flood water still managed to seep through the walls.
He said: "Water is always going to find a way. But if they had built the wall we would not have flooded."
He also said the new culvert at Hordens Bridge changed the flow of the river which he claimed exacerbated the problem.
Jim Faux, technical advisor in flood risk management for the Environment Agency, said: "There were two proposals for Hordens Bridge.
"One was to do the scheme including raising the wall in front of the properties in question which was promoted by ourselves. The other one was to do Individual Property Protection (IPP) which was promoted by North Devon Council.
"The government is not going to fund two schemes to protect the same properties so what we did was merge the two schemes together."
He said the overall scheme, which included the raising of flood walls upstream, along with the IPP improvements, reduced the risk of a flood to a 1 in 100 year chance.
Regarding Mr Stroud's criticism of the new culvert, Mr Faux pointed out: "The culvert is bypassing the bridge which is an obstruction.
"Without the culvert they would have flooded with a lower flood much earlier."
North Devon Council is said to be looking at raising the wall at Hordens Bridge but the Journal was unable to get that confirmed when it went to print.
The Environment Agency is also back in Braunton carrying out maintenance work in the aftermath of the floods.
Workmen will be removing some of the gravel that has built up at various locations, tidying up the Memorial Gardens and cutting down a few trees.
The agency is also attending a meeting today with Braunton Parish Council, North Devon Council and Devon County Council to discuss the flooding and look at what other improvements can be made.
Mr Faux said they would be looking into the possibility of raising the banks at various points where the water overflowed.