Full Horncastle flood investigation findings delayed until new year

The Environment Agency (EA) has explained why a sluice gate that failed to close automatically to prevent Horncastle from flooding was not operated manually until nearly 12 hours later.
About  80 homes were flooded in Horncastle during Storm Babet.About  80 homes were flooded in Horncastle during Storm Babet.
About 80 homes were flooded in Horncastle during Storm Babet.

About 80 homes were flooded in Horncastle during Storm Babet when up to two months of rain fell in 24 hours on October 20.

The multimillion-pound Horncastle flood alleviation scheme, which was completed in 2017, should have protected residents.

However, according to a report published on the Horncastle Town Council website, EA duty teams had been inundated with calls. By the time the sluice gate was closed manually at 2.15pm, it was too late.

Full findings of the EA’s investigation will not be published until the new year.

The report, however, does explain how the scheme should have worked, whilst stating ‘flood risk cannot be removed entirely’.

A control structure at the reservoir limits the flow of water from the Upper Bain catchment by temporarily storing water in the reservoir.

This should operate without any intervention, limiting the flow of water downstream through Horncastle, the report continues.

The sluice gate is designed to close automatically several hours before the reservoir starts to fill, leaving time for it to be closed manually.

On October 20, issues with the sluice gate opening systems meant it did not close as designed.

Nor did it give an adequate alert for it to be closed manually, the report said.

The investigation, led by the EA Chief Executive Philip Duffy, is taking longer than was hoped ‘owning to the complexity of the technical work required’.

The EA has apologised for any frustration caused by the delay.