GALLERY: Giant sandbags help re-assure villagers at Welney as water levels rise and A1101 closure enters seventh week

10:07 30 December 2012

Environment Agency Team building flood defence at Welney bridge. Picture: Steve Williams.

Environment Agency Team building flood defence at Welney bridge. Picture: Steve Williams.

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ENVIRONMENT Agency engineers have deployed a barrage held in place with giant sandbags to bolster flood defences at Welney.

ENVIRONMENT Agency engineers have deployed a barrage held in place with giant sandbags to bolster flood defences at Welney.

The A1101 has long disappeared under six feet of flood water, leaving the main route across this part of the Fens impassable.

Engineers fear the road which cuts through the flood bank, as it enters Welney, could leave the low-lying village vulnerable if levels continue to rise.

“The level is 3m above sea level,” said Graham Verrier, the EA’s area flood risk manager for the Great Ouse catchment. “The road runs over the Middle Level Barrier Bank, which keeps the water in the washes, where we want it.

“This is precautionary; we just want to make sure it’s in place so if the levels start to rise it’s here ready.”

Welney Washes fill each winter as the man-made River Delph rises and bursts its banks. Hundreds of acres between the drain and Hundred Foot River flood, becoming a haven for wildfowl and during colder winters, a giant open air ice rink.

With the water in the swollen Delph a good six feet higher than Welney’s sprawl of homes, the risks are obvious.

“Everyone’s worried,” said engineer Mike Smith, as he surveyed the choppy scene. “I’m from Tipps End, if this floods, Tipps End’s going to flood.”

The waters briefly rose this high in 2007. Since then, the pumping station at Welmore Sluice, near Salter’s Lode, has been beefed up. But there’s a limit how much water the pumps can unload into the silted Ouse between tides.

Cambridgeshire and Norfolk county councils plus both counties police asked the Environment Agency to tackle possible flooding issues at Welney.

Alan Daniels, operations team leader for the Environment Agency said, “The Welney Road goes over the Middle Level Barrier Bank on the west of the Ouse Washes and creates a low spot along this defence.

“We have put approximately 30 one ton sandbags across the road to build a temporary continuous defence along the barrier bank.

“This is a planned activity which is triggered by water levels hitting a specific point. We haven’t needed to do this for some time.”

The Welney Causeway was closed by Norfolk County Council Highways department on November 23 and will remain closed until flood waters have receded.

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