£40m go-ahead for Ipswich flood defences

A SOLUTION to Ipswich's flood fears has moved a step closer following the announcement that the first phase of funding for defence measures has been secured.

Tom Potter

A SOLUTION to Ipswich's flood fears has moved a step closer following the announcement that the first phase of funding for defence measures has been secured.

More than £40million could be ploughed into dramatically reducing the chances of flooding in the town in one of the largest projects put into operation by the Environment Agency.

A new flood defence system is needed in Ipswich before the lowest areas of the Waterfront area become unsafe.

A tidal surge barrier across the River Orwell is the main part of the proposals put forward by partners behind the Ipswich Flood Defence Management Strategy, including Ipswich Borough Council (IBC).

The barrier, forecast to cost £30m, will be constructed across the New Cut, opposite the Island site, once further funding has been secured and is expected to be in operation early in 2012.

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Work is expected to start in February next year on the first phase of the scheme which will see river banks being raised near Bath Street and near the Wet Dock entrance.

Nicolas Rowlinson, the project manager, said: “Following the allocation of funds we now enter a challenging and exciting few years as we work on the flood defence improvements identified in the Ipswich Flood Defence Management Strategy. Central to these improvements is the tidal surge barrier in the New Cut.

“The tidal surge barrier will be in the lower part of the Orwell in the New Cut. The exact position will be determined in the coming months and the barrier will be tied into high ground with new flood defences. Everything upstream of the barrier will be protected against a flood from a surge tide which is the principal flood risk for the town.”

A decision by the Environment Agency on whether the necessary funds would be made available for the project was expected to be made earlier this year but was delayed while the agency waited for confirmation of how much money it would receive from central government for the forthcoming financial year.

A report prepared for the borough council last year stressed the importance of going ahead with the project and stated that by 2067, without defences, tidal flooding could occur many times per year in parts of the Waterfront and Ipswich Village areas.

Are you pleased the flood defence work will go ahead? What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk