Flood scheme dam works finished

The flood dam site during its construction. Picture by Jane Coltman.
The flood dam site during its construction. Picture by Jane Coltman.

The building of a huge dam that will provide better flooding protection for many homes and businesses in Morpeth is now complete.

The upstream storage facility on the Mitford Estate – which is able to store up to 1.4 million cubic metres of water – is operational as part of the Environment Agency and Northumberland County Council’s £27million flood alleviation scheme.

I’m delighted the upstream storage area is complete, which brings much improved protection for the people of Morpeth and their properties.

Jon Hargreaves Northumbria Regional Flood and Coastal Committee chairman

Since early 2013, contractors have been constructing new defences in the town and improving existing ones. Most of these projects were completed in 2014, although delays meant that some of them were finished earlier this year.

After a section of the River Wansbeck was diverted through a temporary man-made channel and rare native white-clawed crayfish from the Wansbeck to a safe new home upstream of the dam, work started on the dam in the summer of 2013.

Alan Cadas, Operations Manager at the Environment Agency, said: “While most of the town centre works were completed at the end of last year, protecting homes and businesses in Morpeth against smaller flood events, the dam is a vital element which significantly reduces the risk of flooding in the town.

“It works by holding back water when river levels are high, which is then released slowly when the threat of flooding has passed.

“Designing and building the dam has been a long and complex process, and we are pleased that the two main elements of the scheme are now complete.”

Chairman of the Northumbria Regional Flood and Coastal Committee, Jon Hargreaves, added: “I’m delighted the upstream storage area is complete, which brings much improved protection for the people of Morpeth and their properties.”

Activities in the town centre included work at High Stanners to build a new flood wall and embankment along the riverside area to tie in with Oldgate Bridge at one end, and Skinnery Bridge at the other.

There are also new and improved defences at Middle Greens including Crawford Terrace, by St George’s Church and St Robert’s Church, at Pretoria Avenue and in Mitford Road.

Coun Ian Swithenbank, county council cabinet member for local services, said: “The council has always recognised the importance of this scheme, which will bring real benefits to residents and businesses in Morpeth.”

An official launch and community celebration event is being planned for later this summer.