A new cycle path has opened ahead of schedule at the Whittlesey Washes.
The second phase of improvements to flood banks at Whittlesey Washes is nearly complete, meaning a popular cycle path through the area has reopened to the public three months sooner than planned.
The Green Wheel cycle path (route 21) between Stanground and Whittlesey was expected to remain diverted until the end of November, while a low, 249m-long concrete wall was built as part of a scheme to improve flood defences.
When the whole £26m Environment Agency-led scheme is complete, a 16km stretch of the South Bank will have been strengthened.
Environment Agency catchment engineer Guy Szomi said: “We’re very pleased to be making such good progress on improving flood defences at Whittlesey Washes. Through our teams’ hard work, we’re completing some of this ahead of schedule, meaning cyclists and walkers can get back to enjoying their local area.
“The Whittlesey Washes project will improve the condition of the South Barrier Bank so it can continue to protect hundreds of homes, roads, and railways in and around Peterborough, as well as 8,000 hectares of farmland to the southeast of the city.”
Whittlesey Washes – also known as the Nene Washes – stores water from the River Nene when it is ‘tide-locked’. This happens when heavy rainfall increases river flows and coincides with high tides, meaning the extra water cannot be released through the Dog in a Doublet sluice. As the tide recedes, water is released from the reservoir and into the tidal River Nene through the Ring’s End sluice.
The remaining phase of the scheme sees bank work being carried out between Poplar House Farm and Bassenhally. While this is expected to be completed in November, a footpath through the area will remain diverted until next summer. This will allow the grass – which adds to the stability of the bank by preventing erosion – to establish.