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Work starts on £1million revamp of Gedney Dawsmere Pumping Station - as South Holland District Council leader Gary Porter calls for DEFRA Minister George Eustice

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Work has started on a million pound project to renovate a pumping station which protects homes and prime agricultural land.

South Holland Internal Drainage Board is refurbishing the 61-year-old Dawsmere Pumping Station - and has had to call in specialist contractors to potentially deal with unexploded ordinance from the nearby bombing range.

The board has received just £142,000 from the Government with the rest of the money coming from its own funds - which are provided by local tax payers and drainage rates.

Dawsmere Pumping Station (57082905)
Dawsmere Pumping Station (57082905)

This has prompted calls from South Holland District Council leader Gary Porter for DEFRA secretary George Eustice to finally visit the district to learn the importance of drainage in keeping the country fed.

Renovation work to the Dawsmere Pumping Station includes replacing the existing pumps with modern fish friendly ones along with with strengthening walls as well as repairing the intake, outfall, and surge chamber.

Area manager for South Holland Karl Vines said the work will extend the pumping station’s life span for another 50 years.

Work has started on Dawsmere Pumping Station's sheet piling walls
Work has started on Dawsmere Pumping Station's sheet piling walls

He said: “This refurbishment is the latest in a series of sluice and pumping station refurbishments that the board has been undertaking over the last 12 years.

"The majority of sluices and pumping stations within the district were built in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s and are therefore now at an age where major investment is required to keep them going and to maintain the standard of service in terms of drainage and flood protection.

“The catchment area of the pumping station protects several villages and a large amount of Grade I agricultural land - which is some of the best in the country.”

One of the pumps keeping the area dry
One of the pumps keeping the area dry

Dawsmere Pumping Staton covers a catchment area of 1,097 hectares and its two pumps has the capacity to deal with 1.08 tonnes of water per second.

Bedford Pumps will be replacing the existing pumps along with the installation of new switchgear on a raised platform to provide greater protection in the event of a tidal flood. This will be undertaken in September.

Mr Vines said: “These pumps were installed in 1961 when the station was commissioned, and have provided 61 years of good service since that date. However, with obsolescence and reliability becoming an issue, it was viewed that now should be the time for them to be replaced, with new more efficient, fish friendly units.”

Work has started on the 1961 pumping station
Work has started on the 1961 pumping station

Another contractor Barhale has already started work on the other aspect of the renovation.

This firm been commissioned to extend the lifespan of the freshwater and tidal sheet piling walls by strengthening this defence.

Mr Vines said: “ Concrete repairs will be undertaken on the intake, outfall, and surge chamber of the station. Access to the sheet piling has required temporary dams to be built upstream and downstream of the pumping station so that a dry work area can be created.

“The work on the outfall is within the RAF bombing range and this is being undertaken with the cooperation of the RAF. Any excavation on this side requires an unexploded ordnance specialist to be present due to the possible presence of unexploded ordnance on the range.”

Coun Porter has been raising awareness of the unfair funding situation with regards to drainage boards and has previously said that every penny of the recent council tax rise went to fund these bodies.

He is now calling on the area’s drainage boards to come together to request a meeting with DEFRA Secretary Mr Eustice.

Coun Porter said: “It (the £142,000) shows that the Government has not got a handle on what happens with drainage.

“The pumping station is a significantly important piece of infrastructure and it is quite right that the drainage board maintains a level of capital receipts within the business to pay for some of it.

“But given what it deals with - someone else’s water - it needs to be paid for by someone else’s tax.

“I am more than happy for George Eustice to come to South Holland to see the importance of drainage boards plays in making sure the rest of the country enjoys the quality of life it does.”

-Tell us what you think on this issue. Email your views to victoria.fear@iliffepublishing.co.uk

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