Flood defences ‘saved’ the town

Wilkin Chapman's Lucy Butterfint at the site with  with George Harrison of  Bells.
Wilkin Chapman's Lucy Butterfint at the site with with George Harrison of Bells.

A key element of Horncastle’s multi million pound flood defences has been utilised at least half-a-dozen times in recent weeks after experts initially suggested it would be required just once every decade.

A 200-acre ‘reservoir’ on farmland near Hemingby has taken excess water from the River Bain and meant Horncastle has escaped the consequences of recent heavy rains.

Experts involved in creating the £8.1m scheme – which opened in July 2017 – have spoken of the vital role it has played.

When initially constructed, past data was examined and it was believed the scheme would be used just once every 10 years.

While there was a flood alert in place for the river’s catchment area, there were no reports of any severe flooding – unlike the events of 2007.

It was the terrible floods 12 years ago which provided the trigger for the alleviation scheme, one of the largest of its kind in the UK.

Two local firms, Wilkin Chapman solicitors and Robert Bell and Company, were deployed to act for the farmers affected by the ‘reservoir’ and worked with various agencies who delivered the scheme: Horncastle Town Council, the Environment Agency, Lincolnshire County Council, East Lindsey District Council, Anglian Water and the Lindsey Marsh and Witham Third Internal Drainage Boards.

Wilkin Chapman senior partner Andrew Holt said: “All those involved with this project have a very keen interest in how it has helped to alleviate the threat of flooding for the people of Horncastle.

“It must be dreadful to live in the knowledge that every time we have prolonged wet spells your homes, businesses and possessions may be destroyed.

“The preparatory work to see the scheme through to its completion was often complex and lengthy.

“However, there was no doubt of the need for this to be delivered and that is highlighted by recent events.”

George Harrison, head of agricultural surveying at Robert Bell and Company, said: “Whether or not the weather patterns we are experiencing will continue remains to be seen but the farmers are certainly reporting far more frequent flooding than anticipated.

“They are all happy to be part of the scheme.

“Horncastle has done a lot of good for the farming community and the farmers were happy to support this.

“While river levels are high, none of the flooding is on the same scale as it has been in previous years.

“Part of that reason is the ability for numerous people and bodies to work together to have made this scheme a reality.”

The importance of the scheme has also been highlighted by local councillors, including Mayor Coun Fiona Martin who had campaigned for defences for more than 30 years.

At a town council meeting last week, county councillor Bill Aron also revealed he had been told by the Environment Agency that they were opening sluice gates on the Bain – near to the swimming pool – much earlier than before.

While there has ben praise for the Bain scheme, some residents are still concerned about a lack of defences on the River Waring.

Residents are also calling for the rivers to be dredged.