Fen road between Wisbech and Littleport stays dry for first time in six years

Welney Causeway stays open the whole winter as rainfall levels drop

The road across a Fen wetland has not been closed because of flooding for the first time in six years.

Residents around Welney usually have to make a winter detour when the A1101 is underwater.

But low water levels and a lack of rainfall has meant the Welney Causeway road to Littleport has remained dry all winter.

The A1101 is a vital link for residents heading to Ely or Cambridge and the winter closures leave motorists with a lengthy detour of around 30 miles via Downham Market.

Current water levels stand at around 1.29m, not enough to trouble the road. The highest level recorded at the causeway in recent times stands at 3.58m in March 2010 - when the road was closed to traffic between the Suspension Bridge and Hundred Foot Bridge.

Drivers taking the chance and ignoring the closure signs were warned of the dangers last year when the road was closed in January.

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The lower than usual water level is a mixed blessing for the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust (WWT) at Welney.

The exposed grasslands mean there is currently plentiful food for wading birds and nests are not in danger of being flooded and chicks lost.

'It's not a regular occurrence and it's better for us because visitors can get here and our paths are not under water when they get here.

'When the water is deep there is no feeding for the birds and a lower water levels mean we see a greater diversity of them on the reserve.

'We have had a high number of widgeon and teal because it has been relatively dry,' said a spokesman for the WWT reserve.

The current dry spell has seen groundwater levels at a low point with steps such as hosepipe bans expected to be taken by water supply companies later this year.

Average rainfall figures so far this winter are the lowest since 1972 and a crisis meeting was held in February to discuss the issue.

There is no danger of the Washes drying out and the Environment Agency said it expected levels in the area to be on a par with previous years.

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