Have your say on town’s planned flood defences

RESIDENTS are having their say this week about the make-up of Morpeth’s new flood defences.

The Environment Agency and Northumberland County Council held a consultation session with people living in High Stanners yesterday and meetings will be held with Mitford Road householders in the coming few days.

Detailed plans are being discussed to try to establish a system of new walls and embankments that is acceptable to residents and the project team.

Meanwhile, a scheme update was given at the Town Hall on Tuesday and more than 100 people attended the presentations.

As revealed in last week’s Herald, full information about the proposals as a whole will be made public in June and it is anticipated that a planning application will be submitted in August.

As well as a large water storage system on the Mitford Estate and a tree and debris screen upstream of Lowford Bridge, further down the river one of the options being considered is putting in a flood wall between Lowford Bridge and the Skinnery footbridge that will go through the rear gardens of some Mitford Road properties.

Mitford Road resident Doug Graham said: “In the 2008 flood, the water ran onto the road itself from Morpeth Rugby Club and to get back to the river it had to go through our homes.

“Our garden is filled with water from time to time, but the house is 73-years-old and it has only been flooded once so residents will debate whether it is worth having big defence walls put in their garden.

“We’re hoping the water storage facility at Mitford can be done in such a way that these walls won’t be needed, but if it is decided that they are necessary for the good of the community we will have to accept it.”

Other works will be carried out across the town centre to create embankments and refurbish, raise and replace existing flood walls, including at the Chantry and Middle Greens.

The building of new protections in Low Stanners is currently being carried out as part of the Dransfield Properties supermarket scheme.

The Morpeth Flood Action Group (MFAG) had called on the organisations to give people an update and Chairman Alan Bell is urging residents to make sure they do not miss out on the chance to put forward their views on the plans this summer.

“It is most important that the whole community has a say in the design of the flood alleviation scheme,” he said.

“We can influence what it will look like and how it will affect the whole town. We do not want to lose the amenity that the river brings to our town and why it makes Morpeth such a desirable place to live.”

Mr Bell said that the Environment Agency was going to keep residents updated via a special website, Facebook and Twitter.

He added: “Our fight for fair flood insurance is also continuing and I expect that an announcement will be made by the Government before or at an Association of British Insurers conference on May 22, which I will be attending.”

The alleviation scheme will cost up to £21million, with Northumberland County Council providing between £7million and £12million. It will provide a one-in-137-year level of protection for more than 1,000 homes and businesses, as well as reduce the risk of flooding from the Cotting Burn, Church Burn and Postern Burn.

For more information, visit www.environment-agency.gov.uk/morpeth

l MFAG has started a 100 Club in a bid to raise £2,013 by 2013 to help cover its expenses.

Subscriptions are currently £12 per year and they entitle the member to be entered into a monthly cash prize draw, the first of which takes place on May 14. Forms are available at Rickard Chartered Surveyors in Newgate Street.

Visit www.morpethfloodaction.org.uk