Town pilot for flood protection scheme

THE chances of Boston people being hit by flood could be set for a dramatic reduction, thanks to a pilot scheme which aims to detect risk well in advance.

Boston’s has been selected as an area of particular interest in a scheme called UrbanFlood, which uses state-of-the-art technology to track changes and discover irregularities which could increase the flood risk.

The project began in Boston last spring, with sensors being installed along the riverbank between St Botolph’s Bridge and Sluice Bridge in the town centre to collect data and investigate the effectiveness of the system in investigating anomalies leading to flood.

A spokesman for the project said: “Even with considerable investment in flood defences, flooding is a real risk.

“While we cannot stop it, we can minimise the damage which occurs.”

At the launch of the Boston project, which took place at the Black Sluice Lock Cottages on Friday, Jonathan Simm, technical director at HR Wallingford, which is a partner in the project, said the town was chosen for analysis because of its high flood risk and the historic instability of some of its banks, including the embankment chosen for analysis.

Agencies, including the Environment Agency (EA), which is spearheading plans for the Boston Barrier project, are hoping that UrbanFlood project will be able to continue once the barrier is in place, provided it receives Government backing.

Mark Robinson, coastal advisor for the EA, said at the launch that it would give more accurate information to support the usage of the barrier, which is currently planned to be in operation for around six months of the year.

He added: “At the moment we use visual observation and base all our long-term observations on that.

“There is support for the barrier to extend beyond the summer period.”

The barrier team is currently working on an application to the Government, which is due to be submitted next spring. It is hoped the barrier will be in place by spring 2018.

Once in place it will be used to control the water level to hold back tidal surges which can lead to flooding. It will also enable boats to use the river and create a more attractive riverside scene, according to project manager Nic Rowlinson.

Nic added: “This project (UrbanFlood) is very relevant for Boston.”