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FLOOD PROTECTION SPECIAL - Are you prepared?

Despite repeated warnings 87 per cent of homes at risk of coastal flooding in Boston are still not signed up to receive advance flood warnings

Councils and the Environment Agency are warning that thousands of people on the Lincolnshire coast are putting themselves at risk of harm by not registering with Flood Warnings Direct.

Despite East Coast flooding being the greatest risk to the county, an estimated 87% of households in coastal flood risk areas in Boston have not signed up to the scheme, which is free of charge and provides a telephone call to a landline or mobile to give advance warnings of potential flooding.

David Powell, Head of Emergency Planning at Lincolnshire County Council, said: "The tidal surge proved that flooding can have devastating effects on communities and it is important people are aware if their home could be affected. By signing up for flood warnings from the Environment Agency you will receive plenty of notice which can help you to protect your home and your family."

Flood Resilience Advisor Rachael McMahon said: "Despite year on year campaigns it remains very surprising that such a small percentage of households are signed up to receive free flood warnings. Please don't delay - make that call as it really can make a huge difference."

It is easy to register for flood warnings online at www.gov.uk/flood, or by calling Floodline on 0345 988 1188. You can choose five ways that you would like to be contacted with flood warning messages including phone numbers and email addresses so that whether you are at home or away, you will get the messages.

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See the Boston Barrier in action

There has been much discussion in the past few years about the Boston Barrier. The project is now a reality and when built will significantly reduce the risk of tidal flooding in the town.

But what will it look like, and how will it work? A Boston Barrier project display, complete with a scale model of the barrier, is now on show in the atrium at Boston Borough Council's Municipal Buildings offices in West Street.

In addition you can see a five-minute video featuring a CGI boat trip along the river and through the barrier, showing the barrier being raised and lowered, at http://youtu.be/YpGqidXD6kw

Adam Robinson, Boston Barrier Manager for the Environment Agency, said: "We want to make sure that everyone living in Boston can come and find out more about the project. The exhibition will be on display in Boston Borough Council offices until further notice."

The flood defence scheme will reduce the risk of tidal flooding to more than 20,000 properties in Boston over the next 100 years. It is currently being designed before an application is made to the Secretary of State later this year for the permissions needed to build it.

The Government has committed to funding the barrier over the next six years.  Construction is expected to start in 2017 and be completed by 2019.

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An interested member of the public examines the model of the Boston Barrier on show in the council offices in West Street, Boston

Your Barrier questions answered

FAQs

Is the barrier in the right place?

Environment Agency: We have employed specialist flood engineering consultants to help us identify the best location for flood defences. The best location cannot be decided by flood risk benefit alone and must consider a range of issues. The mouth of the Haven was discounted as a possible location early in the project because:

●   Likely objections from key commercial river users would make it very difficult to progress.

●   The cost of building a larger barrier closer to the Wash with no existing power or access.

●   The cost of digging an entirely new Haven channel to maintain navigation for large shipping vessels during construction

●   Likely significant effect of a barrier in the Wash European designated area and the cost of creating habitat elsewhere as compensation - a legal requirement.

The preferred location next to the Port of Boston has none of the issues identified above and still benefits the whole Borough of Boston by significantly reducing flood risk.

Why is the barrier being built higher than the Haven Banks?

EA: To keep pace with rising sea levels over the next 100 years, the Boston Combined Strategy requires final defence levels to be 7.55 metres Above Ordnance Datum (AOD - equivalent to 11.34 metres Boston Sill or 10.42 metres Chart Datum). However to meet current guidelines on tidal flood defences we only currently require a barrier 6.3 metres AOD high (equivalent to 10.09 metres Boston Sill or 9.17 metres Chart Datum). Because the construction of the barrier will cause significant disruption to the Port of Boston, nearby properties, the Fishing Fleet and other river users, we have decided to build the barrier to the full height of 7.55 metres AOD straight away. Doing this extra work now saves us time and money because we do not have to come back in the future to raise these defences again and impact these groups a second time.

Will Boston be better protected than communities along the Haven?

EA: Once the barrier is built, properties along the Haven and in Boston will have exactly the same protection from tidal flooding. The barrier cannot hold water higher than the level of the Haven banks. Once the low spots have been raised, this will be a minimum of 6.3 metres AOD. The tidal surge on 5 December 2013 - the highest ever recorded on the Haven - reached 6.08 metres AOD (equivalent to 9.87 metres Boston Sill or 8.95 metres Chart Datum). If the barrier had been in place on 5 December 2013 then Boston would not have flooded.

Will the barrier increase the risk of flooding on the Haven?

EA: No. This is because a tidal surge happens differently to flooding from rivers. A tidal surge happens much like a spring tide - only higher. As the North Sea level rises, it moves into the Haven until it meets a hard defence or high land. The level in the Haven will always match the level of the North Sea - even with flood water storage or a deeper channel - because there is always more water in the North Sea than storage capacity in the Haven or the other rivers around Boston. Putting a barrier in the Haven will just stop a tidal surge from going any further upstream and does not affect the height it reaches.

What kind of barrier will it be?

EA: We are designing a 'rising cill' barrier - similar to the Thames Barrier. When the barrier is raised, a solid steel wall is created, stopping water from flowing upstream towards Boston. When not in use, the barrier will rest flat against the riverbed - allowing river traffic to pass through. Future waterways improvements such as the Fens Waterways Link are possible because the Boston Barrier could, following further consultation and assessments, be used to hold water in the Haven - known as water level management.

Consultation to look at future of Black Sluice Pumping Station

A public consultation event is to be held at Bicker Village Hall on Thursday, March 12, from 2pm to 7pm, about future proposals for drainage through the South Forty Foot catchment.

The South Forty Foot takes water from the fens into the Haven at Black Sluice Pumping Station in Boston.

During normal conditions the water drains by gravity at low tide. When there are high flows during high tides the Black Sluice Pumping Station operates to pump water into the Haven.

The pumping station was built 68 years ago, was damaged during the 2013 flood and needs  between £15 million and £20 million spending on it to repair and refurbish. Only two of the five pumps have been working since the flood.

Although the pumping station is beneficial for land drainage purposes only eight homes and four other properties benefit from a reduced risk of flooding because of it.

The Environment Agency has had separate talks with the owners of these properties and concluded that maintaining the pumps cannot be justified on flood risk grounds alone.

A number of options are proposed, including additional gravity discharge, flood relief channel, more upstream  flood storage, such as a reservoir, widening the drain or construction of a new diversion channel around Boston.

The consultation event will operate as a drop-in when you can speak to members of the project team. Consultation will also be held at Billingborough Village Hall on Wednesday, March 11, from 2pm to 7pm.