A public inquiry is to be held into the £100m Boston Barrier flood scheme - which supporters say will reduce flooding and bring an economic boom to the town.
The barrier on the River Witham - alongside the town’s dock and London Road near Newton’s Corner - aims to reduce the risk of tidal flooding to approximately 900 commercial properties and 14,300 residential properties in Boston.
In August this year, the Environment Agency asked the Secretary of State to grant powers to construct and operate the proposed Boston Barrier through a Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO).
As part of the application process, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Andrea Leadsom, has decided that a public inquiry into the Boston Barrier Transport and Works Order application will be held in the new year.
The TWAO, if granted, would allow the construction of the proposed 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.
A spokesperson for the Boston Barrier: said: “The public inquiry is part of the application process and is an important opportunity for people to have their say. We are committed to better protecting Boston from tidal flooding.”
The Boston Barrier Partnership (Environment Agency, Lincolnshire County Council, Boston Borough Council and Black Sluice IDB) would look to deliver the Barrier by December 2019.
The spokesman confirmed that a plan to include water level management as part of the scheme ‘needed further appraisal work and it was agreed last year that the work surrounding WLM should not delay the tidal flood defence project’.
In January 2015, the Executive Committee of the County Council and the Environment Agency Boston Barrier Project Board removed the scheme from the scope of the Project.
However, they said that ‘it remained the vision to provide water level management at a later date through a standalone project and consenting process’.
The spokesman said the Project has been designed not to compromise the introduction of WLM in the future.
If water level management was brought in at a future date, then by keeping a constant water level through the town, it will also bring a boon to business with prospects for developments along the river, it is claimed.
However, the scheme has 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.
In September Boston Borough Council wrote to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to show it support for the project.
In writing, the authority encouraged the earliest possible commencement and completion of the barrier,
The response stated: “We are pleased to see that the Environment Agency has demonstrated its careful consideration of matters such as safe navigation and fluvial flooding scenarios in the extensive and detailed design and planning.”
More details on the public enquiry as we get them.