New flood defences for town

A NEW £4million scheme to protect an Essex town from floodwaters was officially opened yesterday.Halstead has a history of flooding from the River Colne, with 250 properties affected in October 2001, causing huge problems for the local community.

By Sharon Asplin

A NEW £4million scheme to protect an Essex town from floodwaters was officially opened yesterday.

Halstead has a history of flooding from the River Colne, with 250 properties affected in October 2001, causing huge problems for the local community. But new measures mean that risk of properties flooding in the town is now a little over 1%.

Anthony Coe, chairman of the Regional Flood Defence Committee, said: “I'm very pleased to see this scheme finished and operating. It provides an increased level of flood protection that Halstead really needed.


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“The scheme has been thoughtfully designed as well to minimise the long-term impact on the surrounding environment and rural landscape.”

The ceremony took place at the control structure which has been built across the Rover Colne. Two automated floodgates will be will be used to control the 566,000 metre cubed flood storage capacity which has been created in the valley.

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In normal use, water will pass through the gates. Special sensors detect changes in the river level below the embankment and automatically adjust the floodgates to control the volume of water flowing down the river to Halstead.

When river levels rise and threaten flooding, the gates will be closed, causing a temporary “lake” to be created behind them. Once the flood risk recedes, the “lake” will be allowed to drain down and the river return to normal.

Further north from the control structure, at Doe's Corner on the A1124, the road has been raised and re-aligned and Hepworth Hall Bridge has been demolished and replaced. To improve the environment around the new scheme, black poplar trees have been planted with the help of The River Colne Countryside Project, which is working to re-establish the species.

Special passes have also been constructed to allow both otters and badgers to cross safely under the A1124. The river channel has been improved for fish and other aquatic plants and animals.

Work started in April 2005 and was completed within 12 months by the Environment Agency's contractor, Jackson Civil Engineering Ltd.

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