Whittlesey Washes strengthening finishes a year early and £10 million under budget

Work to strengthen the banks of the Whittlesey Washes flood reservoir have finished a year early and £10 million under budget.

Friday, 16th September 2016, 8:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 5th October 2016, 2:19 pm
A flooded Whittlesey Wash makes for dramatic silhouette pictures ENGEMN00120140802165421

The budgeted £26 million Environment Agency project will help to reduce the risk of flooding to more than 250 homes in the Fens.

Guy Szomi, Environment Agency catchment engineer, said: “We are so pleased to announce the completion of works on the Whittlesey Washes banks so far ahead of schedule and at a significantly reduced cost than expected.

“This is all down to close working with our partners, including Natural England, the internal drainage boards, and the local councils, as well as the efficiency of our contractors, and we’d like to thank them and the community for its patience while the improvements were carried out.

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“These works mean the washes will continue to reduce the risk of flooding to 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 excess water from the River Nene and plays an important part in reducing the risk of flooding during combined high tides and high river flows.

When this happens, the excess water is stored on land surrounded by embankments and then released back into the River Nene when the tide recedes.

However, a routine independent inspection in 2005 found that the bank required strengthening to prevent a possible breach, which could have caused widespread flooding and a serious risk to life.

Since work got underway in 2013, more than 300,000 tonnes of material from local quarries have been moved and compacted to strengthen 17km of banks.

The bank’s slopes were re-profiled to prevent erosion from overtopping, and material was also placed on the landward side of the bank and at the toe to give the bank more stability in a severe flood event.