Have your say on preventing flooding

South Forty Foot Drain. Photo: Andrew Whale. EMN-150227-112251001
South Forty Foot Drain. Photo: Andrew Whale. EMN-150227-112251001

Villagers living in the South Forty Foot Drain area who have suffered flooding in the past are being urged to have their say about how best to manage future flood risk.

A six-week public consultation is focussing on the Black Sluice catchment, where water flows into the River Haven.

It includes Swaton and Billingborough – prime agricultural land which have previously experienced surface water and river flooding.

The Environment Agency’s priority is to protect people and their homes, but flood risk to farming and national food security is also an important consideration.

Black Sluice Pumping Station was built in 1946 and all five of its pumps are at the end of their working life. Options specifically for the future of the pumping station include replacing the pumps, removing them, or transferring them to the local internal drainage board.

Deborah Campbell, flood risk manager at the Environment Agency, said: “We’ve been looking at flood risk management here since 2012, and it makes more sense for us to look at the catchment as a whole, rather than just the pumping station in isolation. This will allow us to make best use of Government funding to reduce the risk to people’s homes and businesses.

“The pumping station was never built to reduce flood risk to people’s homes, but rather to drain water from surrounding land. We want to reassure people that from our initial surveys, no homes would be at an increased risk if the pumps were decommissioned.

“While the Black Sluice pumping station does reduce flood risk to areas of agricultural land, this isn’t enough for Government to fund all the work, based on the Government funding formula we have to use. Our investigations have shown us that all the other drainage and flood risk structures in the catchment provide far more protection to this nationally important area for food production.

“This is why we are considering a range of options throughout the catchment, and we will continue our ongoing work and maintenance in the area to reduce the risk of flooding.”

Deborah continued: “This consultation is a chance for you to tell us your thoughts, and your views will help bring to light any other factors we should take into account when considering our realistic options.”

An information event was held yesterday (Monday) at the Black Sluice Internal Drainage Board office and more have been scheduled:

Tuesday, August 25, 1pm – 8pm, Billingborough Village Hall

Tuesday, September 1, 10am – 3pm, Black Sluice Internal Drainage Board office

Thursday, September 10, 1pm – 8pm, Rippingale Village Hall

Monday, September 14, 10am – 3pm, Black Sluice Internal Drainage Board office

Tuesday, September 22, 1pm – 8pm, Bicker Village Hall

The consultation can be accessed online https://consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/portal/ from Monday. You can also send your comments to BlackSluiceCatchment@environment-agency.gov.uk.