Funding agreed to complete town’s flood scheme

A funding shortfall for Morpeth’s Flood Alleviation Scheme has been resolved.

Northumberland County Council and the Environment Agency have been working closely to identify how to resolve the financial gap that emerged in March this year.

The local authority will now contribute £12million to the project. The Northumbria Regional Flood and Coastal Committee will add £500,000 from its Local Levy budget and a Government grant will provide the balance of £4.9million to allow the scheme to be completed by the end of this year.

Anthony Myatt, project manager at the Environment Agency, said: “We have had to overcome some unforeseen hurdles during construction and the overall cost will exceed the original estimate by £4million to £6million.

“It is not out of the ordinary for expenditure on projects of this size and complexity to be reviewed throughout construction, particularly when doing extensive ground works in built-up areas.

“Since beginning the scheme, we have done additional work refining the design of the reservoir dam and dealing with unexpected ground conditions in the town.”

The construction works across the town centre and the building of the large dam on the Mitford Estate should protect properties from flooding to a one-in-137-year event, the same as the 2008 flood.

In addition, the Environment Agency has put forward a design for a flood water storage dam on the Cotting Burn that would provide protection to a one-in-100-year flood standard.

Ian Swithenbank, the county council’s policy board member for streetcare and environment, said: “We have always recognised the importance of this scheme and we are committed to continuing our support, which will bring real benefits to residents and businesses in Morpeth.

“We are pleased to be working with the Environment Agency to help deliver this pioneering partnership project, which is one of the first in the country to jointly deliver such a major flood alleviation scheme, and our total contribution will be approximately half the project costs.”