Midlands & East Anglia

Whittlesey Flood Defence Scheme

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A three year programme to strengthen the banks of Whittlesey Washes Flood Storage Reservoir is well underway.

Beginning in July 2013 the £26 million scheme will maintain the structural integrity of the South Barrier Bank. The dam will be reshaped and extra material will be placed at its base.

The reservoir lies south of the River Nene, east of Peterborough and plays an integral role in reducing the risk of flooding during combined high tides and high river flows. As it stores more than 25,000 cubic metres of water the reservoir is registered under the Reservoirs Act 1975 and is regularly checked for safety.

Upon its latest inspection it was identified that the 18km reservoir dam, the South Barrier Bank, must be improved to reduce the risk of the bank being breached during an extreme flood. The flood storage reservoir protects hundreds of properties, roads, railways and more than 8000 hectares of farmland in the fenland area to the south east of Peterborough.

The first year of works took place in 2013 between Ring’s End and Eldernell; the majority of the work took place over the summer to avoid disturbing the wildlife on the Nene Washes. The Whittlesey Washes is an internationally designated site for birds. In a bid to minimise disruption to local resident’s dedicated access tracks are being used to get to the site. Routes that are directly adjacent to residential properties are being bypassed.

The first phase of flood bank strengthening is due to end in autumn 2014 and the second phase of works between Eldernell and Stanground will start in 2014; mostly being undertaken in the summer and early autumn. The Nene Way public footpath will be diverted to keep people safe while the works are carried out and diversions will be clearly marked out by fencing.

The project is being carried out by the Environment Agency with support from North Level District Internal Drainage Board, Whittlesey Consortium of Internal Drainage Boards, Middle Level Commissioners, Fenland District Council, Peterborough City Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, Natural England and the RSPB.

The cost of the construction work is being funded by Flood Defence Grant in Aid with contributions from the Environment Agency’s partners. The contractors for the scheme are Interserve Construction Ltd and Team Van Oord; the designer is Royal Haskoning-DHV and commercial management is provided by EC Harris LLP..

The Environment Agency was established to protect and improve the environment and to contribute to sustainable development. Their responsibilities include the regulation of major industry, flood and coastal risk management, water quality and resources, waste regulation, climate change, fisheries, contaminated land, conservation and ecology and navigation.

The Environment Agency has a number of objectives: these include reducing climate change and its consequences and protecting and improving water, land and air by tackling pollution. They also work with people and communities to create better places as well as work with businesses and other organisations to use resources wisely.

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