The Environment Agency has outlined the next steps for managing future flood risk in the Black Sluice catchment, after reviewing feedback from the community, local authorities and partner organisations.
More than 70 responses were received in a six-week consultation seeking views on a number of options for the catchment as a whole – which includes Swaton, Billingborough and the South Forty Foot Drain where water flows into the Witham Haven – and for the future of Black Sluice pumping station in Boston.
A document summarising the results of the consultation – and what happens next – has now been published online. The main findings show:
- Most people support the transfer of Black Sluice pumping station to the Black Sluice Internal Drainage Board;
- In the lower catchment, most people support protecting low points along the raised embankments from overtopping and erosion; and
- In the upper catchment, most people support increased channel maintenance downstream of villages, closely followed by ‘slowing the flow’ upstream to hold water back.
In response, the Agency will submit a business case this spring to start carrying out works supported by the consultation that can attract full government funding, including applying for £2m to protect the low points in embankments from erosion.
Additionally, a steering group led by an independent chairman has been formed to coordinate dialogue between the partners involved. The EA and the IDB will work together on the transfer of the Black Sluice pumping station to the IDB and begin work on erosion-protection and ‘slowing the flow’ schemes.
Over the next two years, opportunities for longer-term funding will be investigated to enable the IDB to operate and maintain the pumping station in future. A plan will also be jointly created to maintain and operate other flood defences in the catchment, ensuring funding is used to the greatest benefit.
Deborah Campbell, Environment Agency Flood and Coastal Risk Manager, said:
We’d like to thank everyone who took the time to get in touch with us about what they’d like to see happen in the Black Sluice catchment. Now we’re taking steps to explore how these options can be funded.
We’re pleased to be working closely with Black Sluice IDB on the transfer of the pumping station in accordance with what the local community has voiced. Meanwhile, through routine maintenance and schemes to strengthen the banks and ‘slow the flow’ of water upstream of villages like Swaton, we’ll continue to reduce flood risk from the river even further to properties across the whole catchment.
Ian Warsap, Chief Executive of Black Sluice Internal Drainage Board, said:
Black Sluice pumping station plays a pivotal role in reducing flood risk to an approximately 160,000-acre catchment and we welcome the opportunity to maintain and operate it along with the current main river assets within our catchments.
We will now investigate with our partners a way forward to attract the finance required to assist the Board in managing and controlling all our fluvial assets to help safeguard homes, businesses, land, buildings and infrastructure – all in tandem with an evolving environment.
Lincolnshire County Councillor Colin Davie, executive member for the environment and economy, said:
“This has been an effective consultation process with the Environment Agency listening to the concerns raised by many respondents, including Lincolnshire County Council. Black Sluice pumping station plays an important role in the catchment and the outcome of this consultation will provide time for the effective handover of responsibility for managing the pumping station to the Black Sluice IDB.”
The summary of consultation feedback and the Environment Agency’s response can be viewed on the gov.uk website.