County agrees to barrier cash

COUNTY councillors have been convinced to part with £11 million towards the cost of the Boston barrier project, which they believe could unlock an investment of up to £500 million into the area.

Last month Lincolnshire County Council’s executive deferred making a decision on its share of the £85 million scheme which aims to cut the flood risk in Boston and open up the waterways for tourists.

The councillors wanted more information on the project and, after a report to last Tuesday’s meeting, agreed to release the money.

The Thames Barrier-style project is expected to cut the risk of flooding from a 1 in 50 chance to a 1 in 300 chance for 10,000 homes and 900 businesses, but will also be part of the ambitious Fens Waterways Link project.

That project plans to link up Lincoln, Ely and Peterborough, and transform our region into a Norfolk Broads-esque attraction.

Council officers said that if members did not agree the £11 million package the Environment Agency would be forced to look elsewhere for the cash and, if it could not find it would have to go ahead with a scaled-down version of the barrier that focussed solely on flood protection.

The council says the barrier will be a ‘catalyst’ for bringing investment to Boston – with knock-on regeneration of the waterfront and the town centre.

It says Government estimates for the total investment that could be brought into the area range from £230 million up to £500 million.

Coun Eddy Poll, executive member for economic development, said: “The barrier will not only improve the town’s flood defences, it will also bring economic benefits.

“It will help open up the waterways, achieving a significant milestone of the Fens Waterways Link, which aims to connect the cathedral cities of Lincoln, Ely and Peterborough.

“This is likely to encourage greater tourism and result in significant investment in Boston’s waterfront and town centre areas. This is something that will benefit all residents.”

Work is expected to start on the barrier in spring 2016 at a site just downstream of the Black Sluice Lock.