Horncastle’s multi-million pound flood defence scheme is ‘in service’ – offering long-awaited protection to households and business premises in the town.
However, officials from the Environment Agency have played down claims that the cost of the £8.4m project has risen to almost £10.5m, because of delays in the construction programme.
The new defences feature a new reservoir, built near the village of Hemingby. It is designed to hold back excess water from the River Bain. The water will be released once the threat of flooding has disappeared.
Work on the actual defences will continue until spring but the Environment Agency has confirmed the scheme is operational.
Deborah Campbell, Environment Agency flood and coastal risk manager, said: “We’re happy to say the Horncastle flood storage reservoir is now in service and can be used to store excess water from the Bain.
“This means the reservoir is now reducing flood risk to local homes and businesses, although there is still some work to do until the project is fully operational.
“We expect it to be completed early this spring, dependant on weather and ground conditions.
“We know people living in Horncastle will be pleased to hear this, as some 169 homes and businesses will benefit from this flood defence.”
The Environment Agency has led the scheme which also involves East Lindsey District Council, Lincolnshire County Council, the Witham Drainage Board and Horncastle Town Council.
Horncastle resident Richard Barker claimed at a recent town council meeting that a landowner in the Hemingb y area had told him there had he had been an overspend of around £1.8m.
The Environment Agency has refused to confirm that figure. Ms Campbell said: “Unfortunately, wet weather last year led to some unavoidable delays, but as with any major construction project, the project budget includes a contingency allowance and current forecasts are that the scheme will remain within this. We are working hard with our partners to finish work as soon as possible.”
The Horncastle reservoir will be able to hold up to 1.5 million cubic metres of water – the same as 600 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Together with the two Louth flood storage reservoirs, the schemes will reduce flood risk to more than 350 properties.
lAlthough the reservoirs will reduce flood risk, the agency admits no defence can ever completely remove all risk and asks people to sign uo to a free flood warning service by calling 0345 988 1188.