Flooding defence work to start soon

BUILDING work on flood defence walls in Morpeth will begin next month.

The town’s multi-million pound flood alleviation scheme received regional approval for 2012/13 at a meeting of the Northumbria Flood and Coastal Committee last Friday.

And it was announced that the Environment Agency has given its construction specifications to Dransfield Properties so it can build protection walls as part of its supermarket development in Low Stanners.

These will then link with the structures to be built by the agency, provided that final approval is given by its national board at a meeting on February 9.

A potential way to save project costs could be to use materials from the Morpeth Northern Bypass construction for the upstream storage facility in the project and discussions are under way with Northumberland County Council about it.

North East Area Operations Manager Alan Cadas said: “Our detailed design work is going along very nicely and talks are progressing with the landowners at the Mitford Estate.

“We’re hoping to reach an agreement with them very soon about the exact position of the reservoir.

“We’re delighted that everything has been agreed with Dransfield Properties so it can start work on building flood walls next to the supermarket site as a contribution in kind.”

North East Area Coastal Engineer Phil Welton added: “The Morpeth Northern Bypass works is one avenue we are looking at as a potential source of material for the upstream reservoir.

“We’re in discussions with the county council about the possibility of aligning the two projects’ construction phases as we may be able to take advantage of the embankments and cuts created by the earthworks and in turn this would reduce the authority’s costs for the flood defence scheme.”

A Dransfield Properties spokeswoman said its contractor Tolent Construction is scheduled to begin work on the flood defence walls in the next two weeks.

A total of £10.6million in Government funding has been provisionally allocated for the Morpeth scheme and the remainder of the costs, up to £12million, will be provided by Northumberland County Council, which is setting aside £3.3million for it in 2012/13.

If all goes to plan, the project will be completed in 2014/15.

Morpeth Flood Action Group Chairman Alan Bell said: “We’re extremely confident that the scheme will be approved on February 9 having listened to the update at Friday’s meeting.”