Village fights to stop plans for huge dam and quarry near Coggeshall

The campaign group are opposing a quarry being built less than 200m from Coggeshall, Essex Picture:

The campaign group is opposing a quarry being built less than 200m from Coggeshall, Essex. (Picture taken pre-Covid) - Credit: Archant

A huge dam and quarry could be built to help protect three villages from extreme floods - but residents have vowed to fight what they describe as a "destructive project".

The multi-million pound bid to build a dam on the River Blackwater, in Essex, has been proposed by the Environment Agency (EA) in order to safeguard Coggeshall, Feering and Kelvedon.

Over the years, the area has been hit with copious flooding. The worst was in 2001, when the whole of Coggeshall became submerged and more than 200 homes were affected. 

The flooding caused an estimated £10million worth of damage, with the EA deriving plans for many years on how to protect the villages. 

The scheme has not yet been put forward to Essex County Council, but an application is expected to be summitted in the following months. 

According to the Environment Agency, due to changing weather patterns, the villages are expected to experience more frequent, more damaging flooding in the future.

The scheme would see the floodplain in the Blackwater Valley being enlarged and a dam being installed to control the flow of water. 

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The EA said the dam, which will go from Coggeshall Football Club to the Essex Way footpath south of the river, will be "blended in" with the natural landscape. 

In order for the scheme to be financially viable, the EA has partnered with Blackwater Aggregates, which operate the sand and gravel quarry at Bradwell.

13million tonnes of gravel and sand will be excavated onsite to create an extension of the floodplain for the River Blackwater. 

Coggeshall Residents Against the Quarry (CRAQ) say these plans will ruin the heritage of the area and described the scheme as being "destructive". 

Rosie Pearson, spokesperson for CRAQ, said: "The sheer scale of what is being done does not need to happen and a quarry of 400-acres will be hugely environmentally damaging. 

"The EA can manage flooding by natural means such as through tree-planting and the creation of attenuation pods, and they should be making the right decision for the area."

Rosie said the option is "the most environmentally damaging and least popular of all flood management options considered".

She said CRAQ stands ready to challenge the scheme robustly when plans are submitted. 

An EA spokesman said a "long-term sustainable solution" is needed for the area, and defended the project for being "the best and only option" for people and property in the affected villages. 

The spokesman said: “With the impacts of climate change already being felt in the form of extreme weather, a long-term sustainable solution is needed to reduce flood risk in the Blackwater Valley.

“Our extensive modelling shows that the proposed Flood Alleviation Scheme remains the best and only option for people and property in Coggeshall, Feering and Kelvedon.”

The EA estimates it will cost £8m, with £1m coming from the agency's government-funded budget, and the rest coming through the Blackwater Aggregates partnership.

Once the design of the flood alleviation scheme is finalised, it will be submitting a planning application and supporting Environmental Impact Assessment to Essex County Council for its consideration and approval.

Members of the public will then get a chance to comment on the application through the council’s formal consultation process.

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