Work to protect thousands of homes from flood risk enters next phase

The previous Ouse Washes work

The previous Ouse Washes work - Credit: Archant

Residents living around Huntingdon are being urged to find out more about plans for the next phases of a multi-million pound project to improve the Ouse Washes flood storage reservoir at two drop-in sessions later this month.

The work that was done in Welney last year

The work that was done in Welney last year - Credit: Archant

The £27million Environment Agency-led project will raise the middle level barrier bank of the reservoir and part of the south level barrier bank.

The Ouse Washes flood storage reservoir is located on the River Great Ouse north east of Huntingdon.

The flood storage reservoir is approximately 22 miles long, half-a-mile wide and covers an area of approximately 4,900 acres. When full, it stores approximately 90,000,000 cubic metres of water above the surrounding land. That is enough water, according to the Environment Agency, to fill Wembley Stadium 22 times.

The reservoir protects thousands of properties, roads, railways and more than 165,000 acres of farmland from winter flooding.

Work started in 2017 at Welmore Lake Sluice and Sutton Gault. Last summer work took place at Welney and between Earith and Mepal on the middle level barrier bank and between Sutton Gault and Chain Corner on the south level barrier bank.

This year's phase of work will see clay material imported from local quarries to raise the crest level of the middle level barrier bank between Mepal and Welney.

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Preparation work starts on July 1 and the main bank works start on the July 15.

As the Washes are an internationally-important habitat, the work is taking 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.

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 the area.

She said: "The project team is ensuring that we have as little impact as possible on local residents and would be pleased to answer any questions they have at upcoming drop-in events in Earith and Welney."

The Environment Agency would like to invite people who live close to the Ouse Washes to the drop-in events where they will have the opportunity to see the final design of bank works and to speak to the project team about the work.

The drop-in events will be held at: Rector's Hall, Earith, PE38 9PX, on June 25, from 4-8pm.