Major flood defence project 'underpins' town's future
- Credit: Mick Howes
A multi-million-pound scheme of works to reduce the risk of flooding to hundreds of homes and businesses in a coastal town has taken significant steps forward.
With the Government confirming a £43m investment to deliver the Lowestoft Flood Defence Project in July last year, a "new economic dawn for our town, our people and businesses” was heralded by East Suffolk Council leader Steve Gallant.
It will see a tidal flood barrier built in Lowestoft’s outer harbour, along with tidal flood walls to the north and south of the barrier, to protect hundreds of homes, businesses and key infrastructure in the town from flooding.
Over the past month riverbed investigations have taken place after two large pieces of drilling equipment arrived at Lowestoft harbour.
A jack up barge has been drilling up to 40m deep test holes into the riverbed at the harbour entrance, east of the bascule bridge, and in the Trawl Dock while a second shore based drilling rig has been set up on the quayside for further investigations.
These works have been carried out to provide information on the ground structure, to help design the foundations of the tidal barrier.
Meanwhile, works on a localised flood defence scheme have been taking place since August last year, around Kirkley Stream in the area of Velda Close and Aldwyck Way in Lowestoft.
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This scheme is being carried out as part of the Lowestoft Flood Risk Management Project (FRMP) to manage 'fluvial flood risk' in the town.
In 2015 and 2019 heavy rainfall flooded numerous homes as considerable damage was caused.
Now, a sheet piled flood wall is being built for about 300m alongside Kirkley Stream and downstream of the Bloodmoor Road roundabout to reduce the risk of flooding, while a new pumping station will also be built.
Work is progressing at the Kirkley Stream flood wall and pumping station, which is due to be completed by the summer this year.
The Lowestoft FRMP was established after the December 2013 tidal surge to develop a way forward "to reduce the risk of flooding from the sea, rivers and from extreme rainfall."
In December 2013 the “devastating” storm surge caused havoc along the east coast – with Lowestoft one of the worst-affected communities.
Back then, 158 residential and 233 commercial properties were flooded in the Lowestoft and Oulton Broad area while tidal flooding resulted in the closure of key transportation links.
With the Lowestoft FRMP representing a major capital investment for the town of around £67m, the target date for completion is 2025.
A spokesman said: "When finished, the project will support the economic growth and regeneration of Lowestoft and reduce the risk of flooding to over 1,500 homes and 800 businesses."
The area at risk of tidal flooding encompasses the Outer Harbour entrance through Lake Lothing to the A1117 Bridge Road crossing and Mutford Lock, which forms the boundary with Oulton Broad.
The spokesman added: "Construction on the river and surface water phases of the project are already in progress.
"Construction of the tidal flood walls begins in early Spring 2021."
David Ritchie, cabinet member for planning and coastal management and chair of the Project Board, said: “The Lowestoft Flood Risk Management Project underpins the future of Lowestoft.
"Economic development in Lowestoft has been held back by the flood risk in the town.
"Once completed homes, businesses and people will have vital protection, significantly reducing the risk of flooding, allowing for development and regeneration in the town.
“I look forward to seeing the project progress over the next few years, first with the construction of the tidal flood walls and then the tidal barrier.
"I am pleased the project has taken a step forward with the Marine Ground Investigation works for the tidal barrier currently taking place in the harbour entrance, the results of which will inform the design of the foundations of the tidal barrier."