New lock will be key to waterways future

THE future of Boston's waterways can today be revealed after the Environment Agency released artist's impressions of an £8 million improvement project.

Described as the start of ‘the most exciting waterway project in the UK for two centuries’, the pictures show how the South Forty Foot Drain at the Black Sluice could look in a year’s time, when the lock and visitor centre have been built.

In one of the impressions a narrowboat can been seen coming from the Haven through the lock into the South Forty Foot – a route which has not been possible for more than 40 years. Another picture shows people enjoying themselves outside a modern caf on the banks of the river, while cyclists enjoy new pathways.

There will also be temporary moorings for boaters, with landscaping to the surrounding areas.

Work on this vision – a far cry from the current boarded-up lock cottages, cracked paths and broken-down fences – officially gets under way on February 8 and is expected to take around 10 months to complete.

Environment Agency area manager Andy Baxendale said: “The new lock in Boston is the beginning of the most exciting waterway project in the UK for two centuries.

“We have been working hard with our project partners to make the Fens Waterways Link a reality, and we are delighted building work is now beginning.

“Once complete the lock will bring many benefits to Boston, including increased tourism to the town, a renovated waterfront on the South Forty Foot drain at Black Sluice, and an attractive visitor centre and caf.”

The new lock link also marks the first stage in the Fens Waterways Link. This regeneration scheme covers the whole of Lincolnshire and will eventually connect Lincoln, Peterborough and Ely, incorporating Boston, Spalding, Crowland and Ramsey.

The second phase of the Boston project, if funding can be achieved, will be to build a tidal barrier across the Haven to enhance the waterfront in Boston and improve flood defences in the town.

This multi-functional barrier would provide protection against a tidal surge event with a one in 300-year probability of occurring, reducing the risk of flooding in the town. The same structure would partially retain the tide in the town centre, allowing safe navigation for a wide range of boats and other river craft.

The initial project has been funded by Lincolnshire County Council (4 million), the East Midlands Development Agency (2 million) and the European Regional Development Fund (2 million).

l The Environment Agency will be coming to Boston on Wednesday, February 6, with a mobile exhibition trailer to give people more information about the project. Anyone wanting to find out more can visit the Ingram Memorial, in front of Boston Stump, between 8.30am-5pm. The mobile exhibition will then move to the site offices by Black Sluice on London Road for the duration of the contract, and will be open to the public during normal office hours.