WORK is moving forward to deliver Morpeth’s £21million flood alleviation scheme.
The project, which will provide new flood walls and an upstream floodwater storage system, began on the ground several weeks ago when the Environment Agency and its contractor Birse set up a compound in the town.
Workers have since been seen removing trees and vegetation in the town centre and along riverbanks to make way for the building of defences. The clearance work in public areas is now complete and attention is turning to private properties in Mitford Road and the ‘dam’ site in Mitford.
Discussions took place last week between the Environment Agency, Birse, Northumberland County Council and Mitford Parish Council to outline how construction vehicles will get to and from the site safely as new passing places need to be provided on the approach road.
Meanwhile, town-centre work is set to start in High Stanners later this month.
The first task is to create a haul road for construction vehicles through the centre of the green area to enable them to move around the site with minimal impact on other traffic.
The flood defence wall and embankment can then be constructed, beginning at Skinnery Bridge. Roadside tree stumps will have to be removed as part of the process, which will be done after BT has diverted some of its cables.
In addition to the main flood scheme, the Environment Agency is also carrying out maintenance work on the Bennett’s Walk flood wall in Middle Greens.
This week workers are starting to replace around 90 ‘weep hole’ flap-valves along the wall, changing metal valves for heavy-duty plastic ones, which need less maintenance. Although the valves are not linked to the drainage network, they do help to drain water away from Middle Greens that has seeped into the ground during heavy rainfall.
The valve replacement work should take a few weeks to complete, but it will depend on river levels staying low enough for it to be carried out safely.
Flood scheme Project Manager Anthony Myatt said: “We are pleased with the progress we are making on the Morpeth flood alleviation scheme so far.
“All of the vegetation clearance work needed in the public areas in the town centre is now complete and work has begun along Mitford Road, clearing vegetation and boundary fences from the riverside gardens in preparation for the new flood defence wall.
“We have also started clearance work on the dam site upstream at Mitford.”
A Flood Scheme Information Centre has been set up in Newgate Street to allow the project team to meet residents face to face, answer queries and discuss any concerns. In the first six weeks of opening it has had more than 150 visitors. The centre is open Tuesday to Friday, from 10am to 2pm.
Updates are also available on Twitter @morpethscheme