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Crowland and Cowbit villagers fear for homes as wash banks come to 'end of their design life'




Villagers fear that their homes will be in danger from flooding unless urgent maintenance is conducted to prolong the lives of wash banks.

Crowland and Cowbit washes are coming to the ‘end of their design life’ according to an Environment Agency report to Lincolnshire County Council which also warns that ‘overtopping is possible and seepage is occuring’.

The Environment Agency says the banks are subject to regular inspections and vowed it is investigating a number of possible flood defences to continue protecting the Spalding area.

Water seeping into Cowbit Wash on Christmas Day
Water seeping into Cowbit Wash on Christmas Day

Higher than average rainfall was reported last December which resulted in the River Welland seeping into Cowbit Wash at Christmas - with water managing to pour through one of the holes in the bank.

Cowbit Parish Council chairman Trevor Tyrrell - who took pictures of the issue on Christmas Day - said: “My personal view is that I am concerned about the River Welland flooding and the safety of the village as Cowbit Wash is no longer safe to stand large quantities of water as it was years ago.

“If the Welland banks were to break, the front bank is not capable of holding that quantity of water.”

Water flows over the banks
Water flows over the banks

Both the Crowland and Cowbit washes were constructed in about 1664 to take excess water from the Welland and were flooded on an annual basis.

However, a series of measures implemented since the devastating floods of 1947, including the opening of the Coronation Channel in 1950s, has meant the washes have not been used every
year.

Coun Tyrrell is calling for maintenance of the banks, including Barrier Bank, along with the dredging of The River Welland.

Water seeps through a hole in the bank at Cowbit Wash
Water seeps through a hole in the bank at Cowbit Wash

He said: “At Peak Hill there was an infestation of rabbits a few years ago which used to go from the inland side to the wash side.

“I feel that if the Welland banks were to burst the whole village would be in danger.”

Crowland Parish Council Chairman David Kempton said members had raised concerns of a deterioration in one of the wash banks a few years ago and feels that this is a concerning issue in light of climate change.

Cowbit Wash on Christmas Day 2020 (51491541)
Cowbit Wash on Christmas Day 2020 (51491541)

He said: “With rising sea water and climate change we are getting more unpredictable weather.

“A lot of our defences are designed for one in 100 or 50 year weather events but if these are going to happen once in five to 10 years then this is worrying.”

An EA spokesman said that flood storage areas to hold water from heavy downpours are one way it protects communities.

Cowbit Wash on Christmas Day 2020 (51491543)
Cowbit Wash on Christmas Day 2020 (51491543)

He said: “Crowland and Cowbit Washes are part of the flood defences protecting several hundred properties in Lincolnshire from the River Welland, including during heavy rain last Christmas.

“We are working with other agencies on how best to meet the challenges of more extreme weather brought about by climate change in order to keep communities protected.”

Next month the county council will hold its first ever climate change conference.



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