Flood scheme could be extended

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MORPETH’S flood alleviation scheme could be extended to address surface water issues.

Northumberland County Council had originally made a bid for funding to the Environment Agency to tackle the problem and carry out improvement works to the Cotting Burn and Church Burn.

But now that the council has agreed to make a significant contribution towards the project’s costs of up to £12million, these matters will be part of the discussions among the new board about its scope.

Surface water flooding, which occurs when heavy rainfall overwhelms an area’s drainage capacity, was a factor when about 1,000 Morpeth properties were damaged in the September 2008 deluge.

An Environment Agency spokeswoman said: “After Northumberland County Council agreed to fund part of the alleviation scheme, these works have been withdrawn as separate projects.

“Plans to increase the capacity of Cotting Burn and Church Burn and improvements to the areas of Morpeth identified as being susceptible to surface water flooding will now be looked at by the new project board as potentially being part of the main scheme.

“The first meeting of the board, which includes Environment Agency and county council personnel, will be in September.”

The project — which is also set to include town centre defences and an upstream floodwater storage system — suffered a blow earlier this year when a provisional allocation of £4million for 2011/12 to get it started was removed after a reduction in the national flood defence funding pot.

New regulations to be introduced next year means that Morpeth cannot get the full amount from the Government, but they allow businesses and organisations to fill the gap.

And last month, the county council agreed to provide between £7million and £12million for the scheme as part of its increase in capital expenditure.

A spokeswoman said: “We will work in partnership with the Environment Agency to look at all aspects of flood defence work in Church Burn and Cotting Burn, as well as surface water flooding issues, as part of the main flood alleviation scheme.”