23 June 2015
Work to build the vital dam which will increase flood protection for homes and businesses in Morpeth is complete as part of a multi-million pound scheme.
The upstream dam on the Mitford Estate is now operational as part of the Environment Agency and Northumberland County Council’s £27m flood alleviation scheme.
It works by storing up to 1.4 million cubic metres of water when river levels on the River Wansbeck are high and could cause flooding.
The storage of water upstream is a vital element which further reduces the risk of flooding to properties in the town, protecting Morpeth from a 1 in 137 year flood – or a flood with a 0.7% chance of happening in any given year.
Alan Cadas, Operations Manager at the Environment Agency, said: “While most of the town centre works were completed at the end of last year, protecting homes and businesses in Morpeth against smaller flood events, the dam is a vital element which significantly reduces the risk of flooding in the town.
“It works by holding back water when river levels are high, which is then released slowly when the threat of flooding has passed.
“Designing and building the dam has been a long and complex process, and we are pleased that the two main elements of the scheme are now complete.”
Chairman of the Northumbria Regional Flood and Coastal Committee, Jon Hargreaves, added: “I’m delighted the upstream storage area is complete, which brings much improved protection for the people of Morpeth and their properties.”
Councillor Ian Swithenbank, cabinet member for local services with Northumberland County Council said: “The County Council has always recognised the importance of this scheme which will bring real benefits to residents and businesses in Morpeth.
“This pioneering partnership project between the Environment Agency and the Council is one of the first in the country to jointly deliver a major flood alleviation scheme and it’s great that the main elements to protect properties from flooding from the river are now complete.
“We are also taking forward a project with Northumbrian Water to look at remaining surface water flood risks in Morpeth and examine how we might further alleviate any problems.”
Work is also due to start later this year to install tree poles in the Wansbeck as the Morpeth scheme reaches its final stages.
And while the risk of flooding from the Cotting Burn has reduced as part of the scheme, there is future work which will be done in this area.
Since early 2013 contractors working on behalf of the Environment Agency and Northumberland County Council have been constructing new defences in the town and improving existing ones.
This has included work at High Stanners to build a new flood wall and embankment along the riverside area to tie in with Oldgate Bridge at one end, and Skinnery Bridge at the other.
There are also new and improved defences at Crawford Terrace, in Middle Greens, St George’s Church and St Robert’s Church, Pretoria Avenue and Mitford Road.
The Environment Agency and Northumberland County Council have been working closely with residents and businesses throughout the scheme.
An official launch and community celebration event is being planned for August, and residents will be given further information nearer the time.
The new and refurbished flood defences in the town centre protect Morpeth from a 1 in 50 year flood, or a flood with a 2% chance of happening in any given year.
The upstream storage area being fully operational further reduces the risk of flooding to homes and businesses. It protects Morpeth from a 1 in 137 year flood, or a flood with a 0.7% chance of happening in any given year.
Alan Cadas is available for interview on Wednesday 24 June. Contact the press office to arrange an interview.
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Benjamin Carty | Communications Specialist
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