Ipswich flood barrier go-ahead

A £40MILLION solution to Ipswich's flooding fears has moved a step closer with the announcement by the Environment Agency that the first phase of funding is secure.

John Howard

A £40MILLION solution to Ipswich's flooding fears has moved a step closer with the announcement by the Environment Agency that the first phase of funding is secure.

A tidal surge barrier across the River Orwell is the main part of the proposals put forward by partners behind the Ipswich Flood Defence Management Strategy, including Ipswich Borough Council.

Work is expected to start in February next year on the first phase of the scheme which will see river banks being raised near Bath Street and near the Wet Dock entrance.

The barrier will be constructed across the New Cut, opposite the Island site, once further funding has been secured, and is expected to be in operation early in 2012.

The project is one of the largest currently being implemented by the Environment Agency with the barrier alone forecast to cost £30m.

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Project manager Nicolas Rowlinson said: “Following the allocation of funds we now enter a challenging and exciting few years as we work on the flood defence improvements identified in the Ipswich Flood Defence Management Strategy.

“Central to these improvements is the tidal surge barrier in the New Cut. The tidal surge barrier will be in the lower part of the Orwell in the New Cut, probably in its mouth.

“The exact position will be determined in the coming months and the barrier will be tied into high ground with new flood defences.

“Everything upstream of the barrier will be protected against a flood from a surge tide which is the principal flood risk for the town. Since the disappointment of a year ago, when funding was stopped, we have been working hard with Ipswich Borough Council to secure funds to enable the project to restart.

“Both organisations worked together in bidding for funds which was key to our success. A challenge for the team for the year ahead is to secure further funds for future years.

“We have challenged the project team to recover the original programme, which would result in the barrier being operational early in 2012.”

Richard Atkins, Ipswich Borough Council's planning and economic development portfolio-holder, said: “We are very pleased with the announcement and grateful for the Environment Agency's support.

“Flooding has been uppermost in our minds in recent years and this should lead to a big upgrade to our defences. There is much work to do in the next few years but this marks a vital step.”

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