Press release

Cycle path reopens early as Phase 2 of Whittlesey Washes work nearly complete

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 3 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, 249 metre-long concrete wall was built as part of a scheme to improve flood defences.

When the whole £26 million Environment Agency-led scheme is complete, a 16 kilometre stretch of the South Bank will have been strengthened.

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.

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.

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.

The Whittlesey Washes project is being carried out by the Environment Agency with support from partners including: North Level District Internal Drainage Board, Whittlesey Consortium of Internal Drainage Boards, Middle Level Commissioners, Fenland District Council, Peterborough City Council, Cambridge County Council, Natural England and the RSPB.

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No flood defence can ever completely remove the risk of a flood. Make sure you’re signed up for our free flood warnings by registering with Flood Warnings Direct.

Published 10 September 2015