£100 million barrier approved - four years on from 2013 tidal floods

Artists' impressions of the new Boston Barrier.
Artists' impressions of the new Boston Barrier.

Four years to the day of the 2013 tidal floods, the Government has confirmed that it has approved the hotly debated £100m flood barrier, which aims to protect more than 14,000 properties in Boston.

Work is now set to begin on the Boston Barrier, planned by the Environment Agency, from January after Michael Gove, the Government’s Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) approved the Transport and Works Act Order to grant powers to construct and operate the barrier.

Artists' impressions of the new Boston Barrier.

Artists' impressions of the new Boston Barrier.

The barrier is set to feature a moveable gate across the River Witham (also known locally as the Haven), together with a new control building to operate the barrier, new flood defence walls on both banks, and a replacement gate across the entrance to the existing Port of Boston wet dock.

Speaking following the approval, Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said: “Not only is this fantastic news for the 14,000 home and business owners who will be better protected from flooding – Boston’s new state of the art defences will help attract investment, benefitting the wider area.

“This is just one of many flood schemes being built in Lincolnshire and we are investing £229 million over six years to better protect communities across the county.”

The scheme has previously met with opposition, including from the fishing community.

Some have questioned the positioning of the barrier, believing it to be in the wrong place.

Others have said water level management should remain a part of the project as soon as possible.

However, proponents are confident the Barrier will make Boston one of the best protected areas from flooding outside of London.

Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, said: “The Boston Barrier scheme is an inspiring example of collaborative work between the Environment Agency, councils, businesses and the local community. I am pleased that it will help to protect more than 14,000 homes and businesses from the kind of flooding the town experienced in December 2013. I look forward to the finished scheme.”

Boston has suffered a number of tidal floods in its history. Most recently, the town flooded in 1953, again in 1978.

On December 5, 2013, defences were over-topped, damaged or breached flooding more than 800 properties across 55 streets and sparking calls for something to be done to protect Boston.

Boston Borough Council leader Coun Michael Cooper, said: “What a great Christmas present for Boston and all who live and do business here under the constant threat of flood. This is a truly massive investment in Boston, and a truly massive investment in confidence in Boston as a place to live, do business and grow families and businesses.

“After the catastrophe which was the 2013 flood this will give us the best protection from flooding outside London. People here will be able to sleep easy on the stormiest of winter nights. This is a huge green light for growth and the future prosperity of Boston.”

Following approval for the scheme’s full business case from HM Treasury last week, the contract for the project has been awarded to Bam Nuttall and Mott MacDonald joint venture (BMMJV).

BMMJV Framework Director Allan Rogers said: “We are looking forward to delivering this innovative flood protection scheme. We have a proven track record of success having recently completed phase one of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme.”