The announcement affecting more than 48,000 homes in our area marks the end of a six-year period of government investment in flood and coastal defence schemes across England.
Data shows the numbers of homes protected from the effects of climate change compared with 2015.
Since 2015, £2.6bn has been invested in more than 700 projects across the country – 39 of which have been in Greater Lincolnshire.
Completed by the Environment Agency and its partners, these projects have exceeded a government target to better protect more than 300,000 homes nationwide, as well as nearly 600,000 acres of agricultural land, thousands of businesses and major pieces of infrastructure.
The milestone was reached with the completion of the Hull: Humber Frontages scheme, a £42m project that will better protect the city from the devastation of tidal surges, which caused flooding to hundreds of properties in 2013.
The delivery of the nation’s new defences, which has continued through lockdown with Covid-secure working arrangements, will not only help to save the economy more than £28bn in avoided damages over the lifetime of defence assets, but also provide reassurance and peace of mind for communities and encourage economic growth.
The successful delivery of the programme comes ahead of the start of the record £5.2bn investment in 2,000 new flood and coastal defences across England between 2021 and 2027.
That upcoming investment is expected to see £600m allocated to the Environment Agency’s Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire operational area, with around 36,000 local properties better protected by 2027.
Eddy Poll, chairman of the Anglian Northern Regional Flood and Coastal Committee, said:
"It was a challenging target and the efforts made by the Environment Agency nationally mean that many more people are now better protected from the ravages of flooding.
"I am particularly proud of the part played in this by the Flood and Coastal Committees, who have shown what can be achieved when we all work together. By bringing together the Risk Management Authorities, local government and the private sector in our area, we have delivered great value, large-scale projects such as the Boston Barrier and Lincolnshire beach replenishment, as well as a long list of smaller schemes across Greater Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire.
"We have reduced the risk to homes and businesses whilst supporting the economy and protecting the environment. My thanks to all involved."
Emma Howard Boyd, chair of the Environment Agency, said: “The success of this programme is measured in numbers, 700 projects, 300,000 homes, nearly 600,000 acres of agricultural land, thousands of businesses and major pieces of infrastructure, on time and within budget. But the sense of security these protections bring to people, and the benefits to nature, can’t easily be demonstrated on a spreadsheet.
“With the COP26 climate talks coming to Glasgow this year, this programme is a fantastic example of adaptation in action, but there’s a lot more to do.”
Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the Environment Agency, said: “I pay tribute to our skilled teams and our partners who have worked so hard to achieve this – it’s not easy to bring major infrastructure projects in on time and on budget.
“The Environment Agency’s six year flood defence building programme has done exactly that, better protecting 300,000 homes against the damage and misery of flooding.
“The climate emergency is bringing more extreme weather, so we must now redouble our efforts to make our communities more resilient in future.”
George Eustice, Environment Secretary, said: “This important milestone means that 300,000 households are better protected against flooding and coastal erosion. I commend the hard work of the Environment Agency and its partners in supporting flood-hit communities.
“We know there is more to do, which is why a record £5.2 billion is being invested in 2,000 new flood and coastal erosion schemes over the next six years, to protect thousands more people, homes and businesses.”
Some of the most significant schemes delivered by the Environment Agency in Greater Lincolnshire since 2015 include:
The Boston Barrier gate is now fully ready and working, giving an enhanced level of flood protection to more than 13,000 homes and businesses in the town.
As the centrepiece of the flood scheme, the barrier gate can be raised in just 20 minutes, responding quickly to threats of North Sea tidal surges.
With the whole of the £100m Environment Agency scheme now two-thirds complete, the project will provide Boston with one of the best standards of flood defence outside of London.
Once the scheme is fully completed in 2022, flood risk to over 14,000 homes and 800 businesses will be greatly reduced, and allow for the effects of climate change for the next 100 years
Lincolnshire beach management
This yearly £7m project to top-up sand on beaches between Saltfleet and Gibraltar Point reduces flood risk for 20,000 homes and businesses, 24,500 static caravans and 35,000 hectares of land. This year’s scheme is expected to start next month.
Winteringham Ings to South Ferriby
Due for completion this summer, this £12m scheme will reduce the risk of tidal flooding to 144 homes and businesses, as well as agricultural land, vital infrastructure and a main economic artery (the A1077). The new and improved defences, including walls and raised embankments, will help prevent a recurrence of the 2013 tidal surge, which flooded around 130 homes and 1,000 hectares of land, causing disruption and distress to local people, as well as £50m of economic damage.
Work is already under way on the delivery of some of the 2,000 new flood and coastal defences that will better protect a further 336,000 properties from flooding and coastal erosion by 2027, which will also see the implementation of the Environment Agency’s Flood and Coastal Risk Management Strategy.
Alongside building new defences, the strategy sets out how the Environment Agency and partners will work to make communities more resilient to the effects of climate change, ensuring they are better prepared for when flooding sadly hits, and able to recover quickly. It will also ensure a greater use of nature to reduce flood risk.