£27m Environment Agency project will raise the height of Ouse Washes flood bank from Earith to Welney the over next three years

The first stage of a multi-million-pound flood defence scheme to improve the safety of The Ouse Wash

The first stage of a multi-million-pound flood defence scheme to improve the safety of The Ouse Washes flood storage reservoir bank is starting in July 2017. - Credit: Archant

The first stage of a multi-million-pound flood defence scheme to improve the entire length of The Ouse Washes flood bank starts next month.

The £27 million Environment Agency project will raise the Middle Level Barrier Bank from Earith to the Welmore Lake Sluice just past Welney and will take three summers to complete.

The Environment Agency is inviting people to find out more at drop in sessions, the first is tomorrow (Wednesday) at the William Marshall Centre in Welney from 4pm to 8pm, the second is at Mepal Village Hall on Thursday July 6 from 4pm to 8pm.

The flood bank is the dam of the flood storage reservoir, the area of the Ouse Washes which is deliberately flooded.

The works will see the bank raised from between 60cm and 80cm - depending on the section - along its 30km length.


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When full the reservoir stores approximately 90,000,000 cubic metres of water - enough water to fill Wembley Stadium 22 times.

The reservoir protects thousands of properties, roads, railways and more than 67,000 hectares of farmland from winter flooding.

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The first year of works will take place between Welney and Mepal on the Middle Level Barrier Bank and between Sutton Gault and Chain Corner on the South Level Barrier Bank.

This work will be carried out in conjunction with the project at Welmore sluice to refurbish the new doors. The sluice is at the end of the Delph River, at the most northerly and downstream part of the floodwater storage area.

It is the only means of discharging flood water from the Washes into the tidal Hundred Foot/New Bedford River.

As the Washes are an internationally-important habitat, the work will take place in the summer and early autumn to avoid disturbing breeding and over-wintering birds.

Following construction works there will be a further two years of maintenance works to establish a good grass cover which is important to ensure the stability of the banks.

The public footpaths along the crest of the Middle Level Barrier Bank will be diverted to keep the public and the workforce safe while the works are carried out. Diversions will be clearly signposted.

Nicola Oldfield Environment Agency project manager, said: “We would like to apologise for any inconvenience this important work may cause and will try to keep disruption to a minimum.”

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