The recent flood in Boston has, quite naturally, refocused residents’ thoughts on the town’s flood protection barrier scheme.
It is crucially important that this scheme progresses as fast as possible, and so I want to sound a warning now to those who might inadvertently de-rail the project and cause delays.
What we don’t want to happen is for this to be slowed by a public inquiry.
I have read claims recently that the barrier is being built in the wrong place.
On behalf of the Boston Barrier partnership between Boston Borough Council, the Environment Agency, Lincolnshire County Council, and Black Sluice Internal Drainage Board, I would like to respond by saying that the preferred location for the barrier has been determined by reviewing the technical, economical and environmental benefits and is the best possible for Boston. The Port of Boston also approves of the barrier scheme at the proposed location.
In 2011 there was extensive public consultation to decide the preferred location for a barrier. As a result this has been identified as just downstream of Black Sluice lock.
Initially we investigated the possibility of a barrier at the mouth of the Haven. But after looking at the impact it would have on the operations of the port, the increased cost of a larger and more complex barrier, the lack of scope for additional benefits for Boston and the damage it would cause to The Wash – an internationally designated habitat – we discounted this as a possible location. Even if the barrier was just a tidal flood defence, the preferred location would still be where it is now.
Subject to the £99.2 million funding being approved, the barrier and associated works will give Boston one of the best standards of protection from tidal flooding in the country. Importantly, this barrier will also help to grow the local economy by bringing about significant opportunities for regeneration along the town’s waterfront by managing water levels as well – which could not be done as effectively any other way.
We know that water level management will have some impacts on existing users of the Haven who currently navigate to The Wash. We are continuing to work with these users to address these concerns.
The devastating impact of the flooding in December has only brought into focus the urgent need to get a barrier built as soon as possible.
I would ask Boston residents to support this vital project to reduce flood risk and secure economic regeneration for the town in the future.
Coun Peter Bedford
Boston Borough Council leader