Flood scheme timetable revealed

THE timetable for Morpeth’s flood alleviation scheme has been revealed by the Environment Agency.

The project was finally given the go-ahead in February after Northumberland County Council agreed to back the scheme financially under a new Government funding model.

And now officials have said that detailed information about the proposals will be made public in June, with hopes of submitting a planning application in August. If approved, construction will start early next year.

Residents can find out more on Tuesday when agency representatives will give brief presentations in Morpeth Town Hall at 4pm and 6.30pm.

Project Manager Thomasin Meadley said: “Now we have secured funding for this scheme we are starting to design it in detail and we would like the community’s input.

“People will be able to hear what we have been doing over the last six months and what we’ll be doing next. In addition to these presentations we will also be holding separate meetings for residents in areas of the town where the design of the flood defences is particularly complex, such as Mitford Road and High Stanners.”

It includes new town centre defence walls, the refurbishment, raising and replacement of some existing defences and an upstream storage system on the Mitford Estate.

Members of the project team gave a presentation at Mitford Parish Council’s Annual General Meeting on Tuesday.

Ms Meadley said they hope to use as much clay soil as possible from local land to build the dam to reduce transport costs and minimise the impact on the village, although concrete will also be needed. Ground testing is on-going as part of the site investigations.

A number of villages said that if delivery wagons are required they will make local roads even worse than they are now and the county should go further with its repairs as a form of compensation.

Parish Chairman Mike Sharp said: “Restoring the roads to the levels they were at before the construction works is the least they should do.

“I’m hoping that they will also properly resurface them, which hasn’t happened in the ten years I have been here.”

Council Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Engineer Trevor Dixon said the roads would not be left unsafe and although he could not make any guarantees on what works would be carried out, he would take the views back to the highways department.

A tree and debris catcher will be installed upstream of Lowford Bridge. Concerns were raised that it will increase the risk of flooding to properties at nearby Abbey Mill and damage farmland, and one resident said that no official has sought their views since the 2008 flood.

Project team member Dave Clark said: “We’re going to design the catcher in such a way that the properties in Abbey Mill won’t get flooded.”

He added that an area downstream from Molesden Burn has been identified for the storage dam, with an exact location yet to be finalised.

For more information about the Morpeth presentations, call the Environment Agency on 03708 506506 or email northeast-newcastle@environment-agency.gov.uk