Extra flood defences planned for Burn

EXTRA flood protection measures are being drawn up for Morpeth, but concern remains about development.

Work is already under way to deliver a £21million flood alleviation scheme for the town, due for completion late next year, but the measures will only reduce risk from the River Wansbeck.

Now the Herald understands that plans are being developed to include a scheme for the Cotting Burn that would see a retention dam built upstream of Pottery Bank Court.

The facility, which would be funded through a Flood Defence Grant In Aid allocation, would hold back floodwater during heavy rain, reducing the burn’s current risk of a one-in-30-year flood to one-in-100-years.

An Environment Agency spokeswoman said: “At the moment we are discussing proposals for the Cotting Burn and the final details of a scheme.”

The work has been planned following lobbying from the Morpeth Flood Action Group (MFAG) and discussions with Northumberland County Council.

MFAG Chairman Alan Bell said: “The work is more than likely to go ahead now and an application should be going in very shortly.

“We have been talking about the Cotting Burn and suggesting upstream storage there for quite some time. It is a relatively small piece of work so it should be done within the time-frame of the whole scheme.

“Originally, the Environment Agency was talking about work to the head of the culvert, but we pointed out that it could cause further flooding problems in the likes of Dawson Place. Now it has come round to the idea of upstream storage.”

However, the group is concerned that even with such measures in place, flooding could be exacerbated by development to the north of Morpeth.

The county council has confirmed that it is designing the Morpeth Northern Bypass so that surface water run-off into the burn will be no more than greenfield rates and will not increase flood risk above the one-in-100-years level.

But MFAG is worried that proposed housing at Northgate and Peacock Gap could see around 44,000 gallons of treated sewage discharged into the burn, as well as rainwater run-off.

“We are not against house building in Morpeth, we just don’t want any more water going into the burn,” said Mr Bell.

“If there is going to be housing development there we want the council to make sure that not a drop more water goes into the burn, including sewage. It is all very well doing this work on the burn, but that could be negated by development if we are not careful.”

The group is urging residents to write to the county council’s planning department and councillors about the concerns.