Horncastle council backs flood defences

The plans for the area's flood defences at Hemingby which will protect hundreds of homes.
The plans for the area's flood defences at Hemingby which will protect hundreds of homes.

The compulsory purchase of land for the site of Horncastle’s long-awaited flood defence scheme has been described as a “last resort.”

As revealed in the News, work on the £8.8m project will hopefully start within weeks.

A planning application has been submitted to East Lindsey District Council for the defences which will feature a 720m embankment off Green Lane, Hemingby.

However, the various agencies involved have still to secure ownership of the actual site.

That has promoted fears in some quarters that the scheme could be delayed, possibly until next year.

Former Horncastle town councillor Richard Barker said he believed the land deal should have been secured as a priority, before any planning application was finalised.

Members of the town council’s planning committee met last Tuesday and gave unanimous support for the project.

Committee member Coun Stuart Attwood asked whether the failure to buy the land would add to delays.

He also questioned whether a compulsory purchase order could be served on the landowners, speeding up the process.

Committee chairman Coun Bill Aron confirmed that was an option but would only be used as a “last resort.”

Coun Aron said negotiations with landowners were ongoing and indications suggested an agreement would be reached.

He said: “As I understand it, a compulsory purchase order could be made but I don’t think there will be a need for it.

“It would be the last resort - the worst case scenario and really I don’t think we should even be discussing that at this stage.”

Although the scheme is being led by the Environment Agency, it also involves Lincolnshire County Council, ELDC, the town council and the Witham Drainage Board.

Coun Aron admitted there had been “communication issues” in the early stages of negotiations with landowners, but said any problems had been ironed out.

Coun Aron revealed the scheme was very similar to a project that was put forward a decade ago but explained it fell at the final hurdle because of a lack of funding.

He stressed the entire funding package was in now place and added he did not anticipate any problems with planning as officers had supported the first application a decade ago.

He described the project as “long overdue”, saying it would protect hundreds of homes.

Residents in Hemingby can discuss the scheme at a parish council meeting tomorrow (Thursday).