Could this mean the end of winter floods closing the A1101 at Welney in Norfolk?

PUBLISHED: 12:08 12 May 2014 | UPDATED: 13:27 12 May 2014

Would dredging the tidal Ouse help reduce flooding at Welney? Picture: Ian Burt

Would dredging the tidal Ouse help reduce flooding at Welney? Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2013

Norfolk County Council has unveiled plans to raise the road, so it will remain dry when the Welney Washes are flooded.

It has applied for a £1.1m government grant to fund the scheme.

Today South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss said the possibility of raising the road was “extremely encouraging”.

Ms Truss, who has campaigned for improvements to the route, said: “This is extremely encouraging. Last year I called on Norfolk and Cambridgeshire county councils to conduct a feasibility study into what could be done to alleviate the problem at Welney and I am pleased that this scheme has now been presented.

“I have convened a meeting this Friday with the Environment Agency, county council, the chair of Welney Parish Council and the internal drainage boards to discuss this further.

“I will certainly continue to work with everyone to ensure progress is made and support Norfolk County Council in securing funds for road improvements.

“I do not want local residents and businesses to suffer more costly delays and diversions caused by the regular closure of the causeway.”

The 14-mile long Welney Wash road (A1101) runs across the Ouse Washes, which are designed to flood when the Delph bursts its banks, to prevent flooding further downstream.

This can leave the Welney Wash road submerged, forcing motorists travelling from Outwell or Upwell, to Littleport or Ely facing a detour of several miles.

The County Council has offered to back its own bid for funding by making a contribution of £400,000 from the highways’ budget. The money was allocated to road resurfacing work following the sustained rainfall this winter that meant the Ouse Washes had to be flooded – and the road shut - for nearly two months.

This is one of four county council bids for government funding for improved flood defences in the West Norfolk area. If successful, the funding would also enable sustainable drainage systems - ponds, ditches, etc - to be created in Downham Market, Heacham and King’s Lynn.

David Harrison, cabinet member for the environment, said: “Our projects can provide a long term solution to these ongoing problems, and have the potential to make a real difference to both residents and local businesses.

“There is a very tough set of criteria for securing funding, and we hope Henry Bellingham and Elizabeth Truss will feel able to support them and do everything possible to galvanise support for the scheme in the community and within Westminster.”

Harry Humphrey, county councillor for Welney, said: “We understand why the Ouse Washes flood but there needs to be a long-term solution that can limit the impact this has on our local community.

“Our bid includes a proposal to carry out a feasibility study into possible solutions taking into account the potential impact of the scheme on nearby areas, such as the renowned bird reserve. “Clearly, it depends on the outcome of this feasibility study, but this could be a really good solution to the problem.”

The county council has recently invested £27,600 on installing electronic signs to monitor water levels on the Welney Wash road, and give drivers accurate and on-the-spot information to help them decide whether to use the road when it is flooded. Julie Foley, area manager for the Environment Agency, said: “We are currently working with Norfolk County Council to explore potential options for raising the Welney Causeway to reduce the number of days that the road is impacted by flooding.

“Any scheme will be dependent on securing significant external funding partnership funding contributions in addition to the Government and Norfolk County Council funding available.”

MPs, the Environment Agency and drainage officials are meeting to discuss the Welney Causeway on Friday.

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