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4 February 2015, 06:53
Businesses in Great Yarmouth are teaming up to try to raise £30 million to go towards flood defences.
The Tidal Defences Business Partnership is thought to be the first of its kind in the UK.
It is a new business group working with the public sector to raise awareness and support for the scheme as one which underpins the vast future business opportunities in the borough.
A spokesperson said: "The tidal defences along the River Yare are vital to businesses in Great Yarmouth and the wider economy, protecting property, important assets and key infrastructure upon which businesses and residents rely.
"They held during the historic tidal surge in December 2013 - but they are deteriorating and a failure of any section could result in flooding over a wide area."
An initial £28m phase of work funded by the Environment Agency is nearing completion.
However, national Government funding rules for flood defence infrastructure mean that a greater proportion of the investment in future phases must be from partnership funds, of which businesses will play a major role.
The £76m second phase is to replace 2,655 metres of defences over five years, starting in 2016. To ensure work can go ahead in time, the private sector, along with Great Yarmouth Borough Council, the Environment Agency and New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, are working together to secure an estimated £30m from partnership sources in order to gain the remainder through Government Grant in Aid.
Today, members of the Tidal Defences Business Partnership will gather to officially launch the partnership beside the first completed section of the new defences, which was part-funded by private quay owner Ventureforth.
Daniel Bycroft, the partnership's chairman, said: "Businesses of different sizes, sectors and locations are already in the partnership, and all businesses are welcome to get involved and play a part in ensuring these vital defences are in place when needed in the future.
"Great Yarmouth's Tidal Defences Business Partnership is thought to be the first time nationally that businesses have taken such a leading role in securing partnership funding, and initial meetings have been very positive, which shows the huge weight of confidence in Great Yarmouth's business growth potential."
Mr Bycroft, who is also director of commercial property agent, Bycroft Commercial, added: "Great Yarmouth is a top 10 UK seaside resort, with an annual visitor economy worth nearly £550m, and has been the oil and gas hub of the UK since 1965, with prospects of sharing in £50bn of investment in energy, including offshore wind, over the next 20 years.
"Regionally, it is an important borough with an Enterprise Zone, deepwater harbour and planned growth of 4,000 jobs and 5,700 new homes over the next 15 years. Great Yarmouth had a total gross value added of £1.3bn for 2013."
Businesses interested in joining the Tidal Defences Business Partnership should contact Bernard Harris, the group's co-ordinator, via 01493 846512 or firstname.lastname@example.org