New barriers at Welney Wash delayed until summer 2022 

New flood defence barriers to be installed at Welney by the Environment Agency.

New flood defence barriers to be installed at Welney by the Environment Agency. - Credit: Supplied by the Environment Agency

New barriers were set to be installed at Welney this summer to protect the community from flooding – but the works have been pushed back a year.

The Environment Agency says wet weather held up its works to raise the crest of the Middle Level Barrier Bank, and this needs to be completed before the barriers can be installed.

An updated report published last week (March 29) said: “The weather last year had not been kind to the project as we lost several weeks due to wet weather conditions.

“This is due to the nature of the material. Once it rains, we must stop work as the clay becomes very slippery and dangerous for machinery and staff to work with.”

The report goes on to explain the wet weather also saturated and flooded the haul roads, making it difficult to work even on dry days.

Another issue mentioned is that the Ouse Washes flood storage reservoir started to fill earlier than usual “and the water level against the bank became too high to continue working safely”.

Therefore, engineers will need to return later in the year to complete the bank works between Welney and the railway bridge.

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And, according to the Environment Agency, the bank and barrier works cannot be completed at the same time.

Works to raise the banks of the Ouse Washes at Welney

Works to raise the banks of the Ouse Washes at Welney. - Credit: Supplied by the Environment Agency

Between March and September last year, a public consultation was held with communities around Welney to find when they would prefer the barrier work to take place because it would close Welney Wash Road.

The majority of respondents wanted the work to happen between June and August 2021, mainly because this time frame coincided with the school holidays.

To accommodate the majority of respondents, the barrier installation has therefore been pushed back now to summer 2022. The road will be closed for between six and eight weeks.

The report concluded: “This enables us to remain on track to complete the construction works by the end of 2022 and to do the barrier works within the preferred time period (June to August) identified in the consultation...”

The barrier is being installed to protect communities from flooding and replace the use of sandbags, which are currently used if water levels rise dramatically.

The Welney Wash road, or A1101, creates a significant low spot on the bank and is filled with 1-tonne sandbags when the reservoir is full.

Instead of the sandbags, the purpose-barrier is considered a more robust defence.