Horncastle landowners hold key to defences - No agreement yet for site of £8.8m project but talks are progressing well reveals councillor

Andrew Barron of the Environment Agency was in Horncastle to show the public plans for the River Bain flood defences EMN-150126-154414001
Andrew Barron of the Environment Agency was in Horncastle to show the public plans for the River Bain flood defences EMN-150126-154414001

Two or three ‘major players’ still hold the key to the long-awaited start of Horncastle’s new multi-million pound flood defence scheme.

That is the message from town and district councillor Fiona Martin who has been one of the leading campaigners in the on-going battle to protect Horncastle.

The News first revealed last year that a multi-agency approach had paved the way for the £8.8m defences to the north of the town in the Bain valley.

Coun Martin, speaking at a meeting of the Town Council last week, revealed planning permission for the project had been submitted to East Lindsey District Council.

However, she admitted talks between the agencies and landowners were still ‘on-going’ and that all-important agreements were not yet in place.

She stressed the fact the situation was not a “stumbling block” and ensured fellow councillors that the negotiations were “progressing well”.

Questioned by Coun Stuart Attwood, Coun Martin admitted there had been a “lack of communication” which had led to a delays.

She said all the agencies were now working together much better but revealed two or three landowners still held the key.

They own the sites for the actual structural work which will feature holding lakes and new banking.

Coun Martin also confirmed other landowners could be affected as their fields - further up the Bain valley - could be flooded as part of the process to hold back excess water, before it reaches Horncastle.

She confirmed any deals would probably involve compensation payments - rather than the purchase of land.

Officials from the Environment Agency are leading the project, which also involves ELDC, Lincolnshire County Council, the Town Council and the Witham Drainage Board.

She said: “They are talking which is a positive and my understanding is those talks are progressing well.

“The fact there is not an agreement yet is not a stumbling block.”

Coun Martin said news that planning permission had been submitted was “another positive step forward.”

She also said that some outline work could start, without the need for planning permission.

She confirmed the Environment Agency was providing weekly updates and would also attend the annual parish meeting at the end of May to outline what progress was being made.

Residents in Horncastle - and villages lower down the River Bain - have been calling for flood defences for many years.

It is hoped the work could be completed in 2016 - subject to agreement with the landowners.