Owners of more than 100 homes in Horncastle will face a much reduced flood risk...thanks to one of the biggest ‘plug-holes’ in the country!
The giant plug is a key part of the town’s new £8.1m defence scheme just outside the village of Hemingby.
The scheme has involved re-routing the River Bain through a newly constructed ‘control zone’.
If the river rises to a dangerous level, the ‘plug’ will automatically ‘swing’ into action...forming a barrier to hold back the water,
That water will, in turn, be allowed to flood adjacent farmland, behind a huge 80m long earth bank.
Once the threat of flooding has receded, the plug will swing open again....allowing the water to run down stream towards Horncastle at a safe rate.
Together with a defence scheme for Louth, the Horncastle defences were officially opened last Friday.
Collectively, they will reduce the flood risk to over 350 properties...at a cost of more than £14.6m!
Construction started in summer 2015 and was finalised last month.
The two projects were delivered in a partnership involving the Environment Agency, Lincolnshire County Council, East Lindsey District Council, Anglian Water and the Lindsey Marsh and Witham Third Internal Drainage Boards.
Louth and Horncastle Town Councils will fund ongoing maintenance on the schemes.
Communities in Louth and Horncastle are often affected by flooding - in 2007 more than 200 properties in the area were devastated.
In addition to reducing flood risk, the two schemes also deliver benefits to the environment.
The Government’s Floods Minister Thérèse Coffey said: “These flood schemes are fantastic news for Lincolnshire, giving hundreds of people in Louth and Horncastle precious peace of mind.
“And there is more development to come across the county, with £160 million planned investment here over the next four years to better protect around 30,000 homes.”
For Horncastle’s town and district councillor Fiona Martin, the opening proved to be particularly significant.
She was first elected to the town council in 1979, two years before major flooding in the town.
Coun Martin explained: “It (1981) was my first experience of flooding but the memory stays with me to this day.
“The utter misery of not just having your home and possessions soaked and ruined but, in particular, the smell and the raw sewage everywhere.
“It was devastating for everyone involved.
“The mayor at the time launched a disaster fund appeal. It raised the princely sum of £2,994 which doesn’t sound a lot now but this was 36 years ago. The 73 claimants received £41 each which I suspect didn’t go very far towards drying out and clean up costs.”
Since then, Coun Martin - and others - have campaigned for flood defence so that ‘home and business owners don’t have to anxiously watch the water levels every time it rains heavily’.
She thanked everyone for their support, including long time MP Sir Peter Tapsell and landowners in the area.
Meanwhile, the Mayor of Louth, Coun Pauline Watson, added: “Louth is celebrating the increased flood protection for the town which is the culmination of ten years of heartfelt campaigning and unprecedented partnership working, both between statutory bodies and ordinary townsfolk.”