Summer weather helps speed improvement work on crucial flood defences

Work on the Ouse Washes at Earith. Picture: ENVIRONMENT AGENCY

Work on the Ouse Washes at Earith. Picture: ENVIRONMENT AGENCY - Credit: Archant

The second year of work to raise the banks of a crucial flood defence reservoir near Earith has been completed by the Environment Agency.

The £27million Environment Agency project to raise the Middle Level Barrier Bank (MLBB) and part of the South Level Barrier Bank (SLBB) is taking place over four years, with the first year completed in 2017.

This year’s work started in July and, in order to minimise the impact on the environment on and around the Ouse Washes, had to be completed by the end of October, when winter weather was expected to kick in.

However, with the warm and dry weather over the autumn, an agreement with Natural England meant the contractor, JacksonHyder, was able to work into November, enabling the firm to get ahead on work which will begin again next summer.

Bank raising on the MLBB is now complete between Welmore Lake Sluice and Welney, between Earith and Mepal (A142 road bridge), and construction of a new flood wall and bridge has been completed and is ready for next year’s bank work at the RSPB Reserve at Welches Dam. Bank raising work on the SLBB is complete between Sutton Gault and chain corner.

The public footpath and bridleway closures in these areas will remain in force to allow the grass to establish. The grass plays an important role in the stability of the bank and the closure will stay in place until at least next summer.

This year, the Environment Agency built a temporary bridge over the counter drain and an access route direct from Bridge Farm quarry in Earith. It enabled workers to deliver clay directly to the bank between Earith and Mepal, removing the need to transport it by road.

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Next year’s bank work on the MLBB will be happening between Welney and Mepal (A142 road bridge) along with some localised work at Earith and Sutton Gault.

Claire Jouvray, Environment Agency operations manager for the Great Ouse catchment, said it was a vital scheme that will maintain the level of protection provided to more than 2,000 properties and 165,000 acres of agricultural land.

She said: “We were really pleased to get our 2018 phase completed on time and have everything ready to start again in July.

“Thanks to partners, our contractors, neighbours and local authorities we were able to keep the project on track and currently expect to complete on schedule.

“We’d like to thank the local community for their patience and understanding during this complex programme of work.”