The Floods Minister Theresa Coffey joined the Environment Agency and local colleagues on 22 January 2018 to mark the start of works on the Boston Barrier, a £100 million defence scheme which will make Boston one of the best protected areas from flooding outside of London.
The Environment Agency project will protect 14,000 homes and businesses in Lincolnshire from tidal flooding. The contract for the Barrier’s construction been awarded to a Bam Nuttall – Mott MacDonald joint venture (BMMJV). The tidal barrier will feature a moveable gate across the River Witham (also known locally as the Haven), together with a new control building to operate the barrier, new flood defence walls on both banks, and a replacement gate across the entrance to the existing Port of Boston wet dock.
When not in use, the barrier’s 25-metre wide hydraulic-powered gate will lay flat on the riverbed out of sight, but will be raised to close off the River Witham when flooding is expected, preventing high tides on the North Sea from raising river levels in the town.
Work is already underway to dredge more than 5,000 cubic metres of silt from the Boston Haven to make way for construction. Over the coming months, 2,000 tonnes of steel sheeting will be put in place to strengthen the riverbanks in preparation for the barrier.
It is expected that works will be complete by the end of 2020.
Marking the start of works, Floods Minister Thérèse Coffey said: “The Boston Barrier is part of our plan to invest £229 million over the next four years to make sure the risk of flooding to 49,000 homes and businesses in Lincolnshire is significantly reduced.”
Toby Willison, Executive Director of Operations at the Environment Agency, added: “This state-of-the-art defence will help protect Boston’s communities and businesses from the kind of flooding the town experienced in December 2013.”
Boston has a long history of tidal flooding, most recently in December 2013 when more than 800 properties flooded across 55 streets. Flooding also occurred in 1953 and 1978.
The Environment Agency is investing £2.6 billion of government funding in more than 1,500 flood defences to protect homes and businesses across the country by 2021.