Flood barrier funding decision due
ESSENTIAL funding for a £71million barrier to protect Ipswich from devastating floods could be announced today, The Evening Star has learned.As revealed in the Star last month, a brand new flood defence system is needed in Ipswich or the lowest areas of the Waterfront will become “unsafe” in as few as eight years.
ESSENTIAL funding for a £71million barrier to protect Ipswich from devastating floods could be announced today, The Evening Star has learned.
As revealed in the Star last month, a brand new flood defence system is needed in Ipswich or the lowest areas of the Waterfront will become “unsafe” in as few as eight years.
The initial cost of constructing a barrier would approach the £35million mark, with the project forecasted to cost in excess of £70million over a 100-year period.
Nick Rowlinson, Environment Agency project manager for the Ipswich barrier project, said his organisation is likely to know today if government will cough up the cash needed.
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He said: “Over the last year we have been working with Ipswich Borough Council to make sure the bid for funding in the coming financial year is robust and presented in the best possible light.
“Our Eastern regional committee meets today and I would imagine at that meeting, or shortly after, we will have an idea of what our allocations are.”
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Plans for a new barrier, which would be built across the New Cut near Felaw Maltings, have been in the pipeline for a number of years and aim to protect the Waterfront and Ipswich village areas from tidal surges.
A report that went before Ipswich Borough Council's executive committee last month stressed the importance of going ahead with the project, claiming there could be tragic effects if nothing is done.
Mr Rowlinson said should funding be secured, contractors could be on site within 18 months to two years.
He added that the Environment Agency is in discussion with Ipswich Borough Council about the possibility of combining works to create a new barrier with plans for a dock crossing to ferry cars across the water.
Town chiefs are currently considering spending tens of millions on the bridge across Ipswich docks.
The crossing, which would likely involve a new road on the west bank of the port, is seen as a better way of getting traffic to the docks and easing town centre traffic pressures.
Mr Rowlinson said: “It [combining the two schemes] will be an option that will be explored.
“We could potentially use the same foundations which would save huge amounts of money for both partners.”
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VITAL work to replace existing floodgates in Ipswich will get under way next month.
The town's dock and Waterfront area is already protected by two huge gates sited where the dock head meets the River Orwell.
However these key structures are coming to the end of their life and engineers are due to begin work to replace them late next month to ensure the town remains protected.
The £1.25million project will see the existing gates replaced with two new large ones, measuring nine metres by 11 metres and weighing in at a massive 45 tonnes each.
The new gates will be higher than the previous old ones so they reach the same height as the proposed new flood barrier on the adjacent New Cut.