Flood scheme takes major step forward

THE Morpeth flood alleviation scheme is set to take an important step forward this evening.

Approval for the town centre works section is expected to be granted by Northumberland County Council’s North Area Planning Committee at its meeting in Alnwick.

These include a mixture of flood defence walls, embankments, repairs to existing defences, raising of ground levels and floodgates.

Members of Morpeth Town Council spoke of their hope that it will be given the green light and Coun Andrew Tebbutt, also a county councillor, said the Environment Agency was very keen to see the application be determined in December.

“I understand that the works will start in April if they receive planning permission,” he added.

The £21million scheme was in danger of not going ahead after Government cuts to the flood defence budget.

But changes to the funding process by Defra allowed other organisations to make significant contributions to it and the county council came on board by agreeing to provide up to £12million from its infrastructure investment package.

Coun Derek Thompson repeated his call from earlier this year that both organisations should proceed quickly and bring forward elements of the scheme if possible.

But his proposal to write to them again after a letter was sent a few months ago was not supported, as other councillors did not think it was necessary at this point.

Mayor Mark Horton said: “We have made our position clear many times on this and in my opinion the project is now progressing as quickly as humanly possible, so I don’t see the need for us to write another letter.”

Under the flood scheme, works would be carried out at Lowford Bridge, Mitford Road, High Stanners, Oldgate Bridge, Collingwood Terrace, Wansbeck Street, Low Stanners, Pretoria Avenue, around the Chantry and Bennett’s Walk.

Four letters of objection were submitted over the design of a wall in Mitford Road, although the plans have been amended.

There are still outstanding issues about construction traffic for the upstream floodwater storage system on the Mitford Estate and that application is likely to be considered in January.