East Anglian radar project
A radar network review recommended the addition of a radar in East Anglia to improve network coverage, provide better and more detailed observations of rainfall further east than currently possible.
A planning application to install a radar at Old Buckenham was refused by Breckland District Council in May 2021. The Met Office, Environment Agency and Anglian Water submitted an appeal against the planning refusal in August 2021. In July 2022 planning was approved by HM Planning Inspectorate.
There are several steps that we need to go through before building work starts onsite.
We have worked with the Environment Agency, Anglian Water and our structural engineers to finalise the build specification and plans before sending out the Invitation to Tender for the main works contract in July 2023. We will be using the time during the tender process to progress some initial site infrastructure works, which may see some limited activity at the Anglian Water site during the autumn.
Each potential contractor will provide us with their schedule for the works which will give us a better idea of potential timelines for the build. We anticipate that the construction phase for the project will start in early 2024.
This infrastructure project is being funded by ourselves (an Executive Agency of BEIS) and the Environment Agency. This will be the UK’s first new weather radar installation since 2009 and will be a valuable addition to our existing network of 15 operational weather radars across the UK, which provide real-time information to help monitor and forecast heavy rainfall.
The observations provided by this new radar will be particularly useful for immediate emergency response in times of extreme weather conditions, such as rapidly developing heavy showers and easterly snowfall events in East Anglia as seen in 2018 with the ‘Beast from the East’. They will also be of value to Anglian Water and the Environment Agency who manage water resource in the region.
A thorough investigation was conducted into a number of possible sites across the region, with potential benefits weighed up against likely costs and associated risks, including future viability. A brownfield site was identified in Old Buckenham, on land owned by Anglian Water who we are working with closely in the planning and construction of the proposed radar. This is the only potential site, out of the 16 investigated, that could provide 1km resolution coverage over the whole of Norfolk, right up to the coast line.
Improved radar coverage is vitally important if we are to provide better, more detailed observations of rainfall and improve the lead-time of warnings for significant weather and potential flooding in the area.
A weather radar in East Anglia will help meteorologists deal more confidently with Easterly and North-easterly snow situations that impact East Anglia, as well as summer convective storms, and slow-moving weather systems. It should also reduce risk to property and life by improving flood and weather warnings throughout the region as well as providing benefits to the wider UK. Data obtained from the radar will be integrated into weather prediction models and provide increased resilience for the wider network. We estimate that damage avoided by the introduction of the radar and the resulting improvement to severe weather and flood warning could amount to over £1m per annum.