Chairman Lord Chris Smith was joined by Environment Agency board members and executive directors during the visit which included a visit to the Lincolnshire coast and to the towns of Horncastle and Boston and other communities.
During the winter storms, 116,000 properties in Lincolnshire were protected by Environment Agency flood defences and across the country 1.4 million properties were protected.
East coast tidal surge
Lord Smith said:
The East Coast experienced a tidal surge on the 5 December which was bigger than the one in 1953 which caused such widespread destruction. Our coastal defences have been much improved since 1953 and stood up to the test. Unfortunately 583 homes and businesses flooded in Boston and more than 160 properties flooded along the South Humber bank. However, it is clear the investment in sea defences over many years was the main reason more significant flooding was avoided.
Lincolnshire’s coastal flood plain extends 9km inland and we have invested over £300 million over the last 40 years to reduce the risk to communities and businesses.
In addition to seeing first-hand the swift repairs to flood defences which have been carried out in Boston since December, board members also heard about planned works to reduce flood risk to Lincolnshire communities. This included the proposed Boston Barrier scheme which is currently expected to be completed in 2019 at a cost of just over £90 million. Once built, the barrier will provide added flood protection to the town and will also control water levels in the Haven to make navigation on Boston’s waterways easier.
In Horncastle, they heard from representatives of Horncastle Town Council about how a scheme to reduce flood risk in the town is progressing. The Horncastle scheme, which includes proposals for a flood storage reservoir upstream of the town and property-level flood protection, is being progressed by the Environment Agency in partnership with Lincolnshire County Council, East Lindsey District Council, Horncastle Town Council and internal drainage boards. Construction of the reservoir is expected to start in 2015.
The Board members also had the opportunity to discuss the challenges of reducing flood risk to the 30,000 properties, 19,000 static caravans and 35,000 hectares of land on Lincolnshire’s low-lying coastal flood plain as they travelled along the coast to Ingoldmells.
The tour was followed by a meeting with representatives of the Environment Agency’s partner organisations.