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West Norfolk road flood barrier work postponed for a year - by rain

Work to install new barriers on part of a West Norfolk road prone to flooding problems is on hold for a year, because of rain.

Officials now expect to complete the project on the A1101 at Welney in 2022, after several weeks intended for associated works were lost due to poor weather.

The scheme is part of a broader project which aims to maintain protection for around 2,000 homes and nearly 70,000 hectares of farmland.

An artist's impression of what the flood barrier will look like. Picture: Environment Agency. (45885061)
An artist's impression of what the flood barrier will look like. Picture: Environment Agency. (45885061)

In its latest update on the Ouse Washes Middle Level Barrier project the Environment Agency explains wet weather had meant the loss of several weeks when work could not be carried out to the project, aimed at protecting the community from flooding.

But officials have insisted the overall scheme remains on course to be completed by the end of next year.

A public survey asking people for their views on when the A1101 Wash Road should be closed so the barriers can be installed resulted in overwhelming support for June to August to coincide with school holidays.

The report said: "We thank the people who took time to respond and put their suggestions forward on the preferred timing to close the road in order to complete the essential flood barrier works.

"We consider the majority preferred option to be the ideal time to conduct these works too because of the increased probability of dry and fair weather that would allow us to do all the necessary work."

However, it continued: "The weather last year had not been kind to the project as we lost several weeks due to wet weather conditions. This is due to the nature of the material.

"Once it rains, we must stop work as the clay becomes very slippery and dangerous for machinery and staff to work with. The rain had saturated and flooded the haul roads making it difficult to work on the dry days. We used pumps to try to remove some of the water from the haul roads.

"Another factor that caused us to stop work early was that the Ouse Washes flood storage reservoir started to fill earlier than usual, and the water level against the bank became too high to continue working safely.

"We will need to return this year to complete the bank works between Welney and the railway bridge."

It added that as a result it was not possible to do the bank work and instal the barriers at the same time and so it had decided to postpone the barrier work until next summer.

It is anticipated construction of the barrier will take 14 weeks and the road will need to be closed for up to eight of those weeks.

The barrier will only be used when the Ouse Washes flood and the water level at Welney reaches a set level and the A1101 is impassable because of flooding.

The barrier will protect against any water spilling from the washes and becoming a flood threat to the village.

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