Monday, April 07, 2008

Barrier proposed to protect the Fens

A barrage could be built across The Wash to protect the Fens from flooding, it emerged today.

The Wash Tidal Barrier Corporation is bidding to build a new sea defence barrier between Hunstanton, in Nofolk and Skegness, in Lincolnshire, in a bid to protect low-lying areas from the growing threat of storm surges.

The announcement came as Norfolk County Council pledged to fight for Government funding to protect the Upper Thurne and its broads.

Much of the Fens between King's Lynn and Ely are lower than sea level. Hundreds of thousands of homes are protcted by a network of man-made drains and rivers, many of them higher than the surrounding land.

A new pumping station is being built on the Middle Level Drain at St Germans to cope with rising sea levels and changing weather patterns.

Today the Barrier Corporation said: "Sea level rise and climate change are major threats to the Wash coast and fenland environment.

"Sea level is predicted to rise by at least one metre by 2100 and sea temperatures, already 1°C higher, are increasing by 0.4°C each decade. Storm surges sufficient to overwhelm the Wash coastal defences are becoming ever more likely.

"Raising the height of existing coastal defences would not only be prohibitively expensive, but also have a major impact on marginal habitats such as salt marsh, inter-tidal mudflats and sandbanks.

"A tidal barrier across the Wash will provide us with the opportunity to manage the tide height and range within the Wash. The Barrier also offers a number of additional benefits – in particular, the generation of a large and reliable amount of green electricity and flood protection for more than 500,000 people, 300,000 hectares of grade 1 agricultural land and billions of pounds’ worth of assets."

For more on the Wash barrier proposals, click here.