Diggers move in to raise flood banks at the Ouse Washes reservoir as part of £27 million flood defence project

Work has begun to raise the flood banks at the Ouse Washes. Photo: MICK GEORGE

Work has begun to raise the flood banks at the Ouse Washes. Photo: MICK GEORGE - Credit: Archant

Work to raise the flood banks at the Ouse Washes reservoir – costing £27 million - has begun.

Mick George Ltd has been hard at work on behalf of civil engineering firm JacksonHyder since it won a £10.5 million contract from the Environment Agency, with diggers working to raise the height of the Middle Level Barrier Bank.

The first year of the three-year works will be based through Welney and Mepal before maintenance work is carried out towards the end of the project. The work will take place during the summer and autumn months to avoid disturbing breeding animals and birds in the area.

Originally constructed during the 1630s as part of the drainage of the Fens, the embankments have been repeatedly modified and repaired, until major works were last undertaken between 1990 and 1996 to raise the banks with imported, locally sourced materials.

The project aims to raise the height of the Middle Level barrier bank between 60cm and 80cm along the 30 kilometre embankment stretch, from Earith to Welmore Lake Sluice at Salters Lode. Mick George will also act as a major supplier of the clay materials, as well as completing the formation of the banks.

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

When full, the reservoir stores a whopping 90,000,000m3 of water - enough water to fill Wembley Stadium 22 times over. The reservoir protects thousands of homes, roads, railways and more than 67,000 hectares of farmland from flooding during the winter.

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Michael George, contracts director at Mick George said: “We’re extremely pleased to be working on this project. The site has a lot of heritage, and we believe, being a local company serving the surrounding regions on a daily basis, that we are best placed to deliver the project with the attention that is required.’’

“We recognise the impact that the current failures of the embankments have on nearby residents, visitors and business operators like ourselves, so have a vestured interest in enhancing the location to the highest standard.”

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