Flood barrier inquiry hears final evidence

An artists impression of the Boston Barrier.
An artists impression of the Boston Barrier.

An inquiry into the Boston Barrier - which will ultimately determine if it can go ahead as currently proposed has heard evidence from both supporters and protestors.

The £100 million Boston Barrier aims to reduce the risk of tidal flooding to more than 17,000 properties in the town.

The final closing date of the inquiry, which was looking at the Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO) granting powers to construct the barrier, has had to be extended by three weeks to give the EA time to respond to late evidence.

This was accepted by inspector Mike Robins at the final day at the Boston Hub, on Marsh Lane, on Wednesday.

The inquiry was approved by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Andrea Leadson.

If granted, the order, would allow the construction of the new tidal barrier with a moveable gate across the River Witham and a new building to enable operation of 
the barrier.

It would also authorise the construction of new flood defence walls on both banks of the Haven, a replacement gate across the entrance to the existing Port Wet Dock and enable the Environment Agency to execute ancillary works, including dredging of the river.

In a statement Boston and District Fisherman’s Association spokesman Captain Brian Franklin said he ‘could not remove his objections’ to the barrier, suggesting a scheme of sea lock and barrage which was talked back in 1994 would be a better solution.

Susan Brown, of the Fishermen’s Mission in Boston, said she felt there were still concerns over issues such as the line of sight approaching the barrier, the width of the barrier and the ‘velocity difference’ of the water.

She said: “Those issues could be solved if it could be moved off the corner and some of the other options do hold that.”

Boston Belle owner Rodney Bowles, said he understood the need for the barrier but said he felt a need for a lock to be built next to the barrier.

All the objectors accepted the need for a barrier.

Fishermen have been offered an alternative location to dock their boats.

Speaking on behalf of the EA, barrister Richard Honey said the location was chosen because ‘it was the best overall location’. He said a barrier was necessary and pointed to the ‘sheer scale of risk to Boston’.

He said locations up-river from the Swing Bridge would have ‘unacceptable townscape and visual impacts’, while downstream would have impacts on the Haven and the Wash, with the former being ‘unviable’.

He said the plans and their alternatives had been ‘critically appraised’ by expert witnesses.

He concluded: “The EA has done all that can reasonably be done to balance all interests and mitigate all impacts.”

The EA must respond to the late evidence by May 31, after which the inspector will present his conclusion to the secretary of state.

An EA spokesman told The Standard the authority 
was still hopeful construction will begin towards the end of 2017.