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Barrier: Govt says no delays

Boston's flood prevention barrier scheme has taken an important step forwards - complete with Government approval for the project to proceed as quickly and as smoothly as possible.

Boston Borough Council officers attended a meeting with the Environment Agency and other involved parties in London for a Government Treasury "gateway review".

Projects as big as the barrier scheme, which is set to cost around £90 million to build and have a whole-life cost of £238 million, have to leap hurdles in stages - gateway reviews - in order to continue to proceed.

The first such review called by the Treasury saw the scheme supported, with a recommendation that it proceed as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Phil Drury, Boston Borough Council's deputy chief executive, and Steve Lumb, the council's head of built environment and development, were among those interviewed during the day-long review.

Any potential delay to the scheme has been identified as a project risk.

Cllr Peter Bedford, leader of Boston Borough Council, said: "It is very good to hear that the Treasury is urging the scheme proceeds as quickly as possible. It has been a concern, heightened by the flood of December 5, that nothing should happen to delay the scheme. The last thing anyone wants are objections leading to a public inquiry.

"It has already been placed on record that the barrier would have prevented all the flooding in Boston town on December 5, so we don't want to see any unnecessary repeat of that."

The barrier - a smaller version of the structure lowered in the Thames at times of risk to protect London from flooding - is to be built in the tidal Haven in Boston.

The barrier is currently expected to be finished by 2019. As well as managing the risk from tidal flooding it will also enable opportunities for regenerating the town's waterways.

Water levels in the Haven will be controlled to provide a more attractive waterfront making navigation on Boston's waterways safer and more predictable. This will achieve a major phase of the Fens Waterways Link, with more opportunities for recreation and tourism.

The flood defence banks of the Haven immediately downstream of the Barrier will be raised providing Boston with protection from a tidal surge with a 1 in 300 chance of happening in any one year and give the town one of the best standards of protection against tidal flooding in the country.

If you have any questions about the Boston Barrier or if you'd like to receive updates about the project then please contact dominic.burton@environment-agency.gov.uk