£26m pumping station will protect homes, businesses and eels

pumping station

The new pumping station being built at Islington, near King's Lynn - Credit: Balfour Beatty

A new pumping station will protect 1,500 homes and 500 businesses from flooding, while safeguarding aquatic life.

King's Lynn Internal Drainage board is building the biggest station in its 250-year history at Islington, near Lynn.

The £26m plant, which is being funded by the Environment Agency, will serve 25 square miles of the fens to the south west of the town.

Mel Neale, project manager for the drainage board, said it would house four powerful cannister pumps.

"When these pumps are running they are capable of moving 16,000 litres of water per second, capable of emptying an Olympic size swimming pool in just three minutes," she said.

"The principal contractors, Balfour Beatty, are hoping to complete the installation of the pumps in June 2021. The project includes demolition of the existing pumping station which still houses the operational diesel pumps that date back to the 1950s.

"This project is a great example of collaborative working between flood risk management authorities. The construction of the station has safely continued throughout the Coronavirus pandemic with minimal disruption."

Most Read

The station will pump water from a land drain called the Smeeth Lode, which runs from Marshland St James, into the tidal Ouse at Eau Brink. It collects water from a network of smaller dykes and cannels which fan out across the fields.

pumping station

The new plat at Islington will have fish-friendly pumps to avoid harming migrating eels - Credit: Balfour Beatty

Manufacturer Bedford Pumps said the new station's pumps would be fish friendly to avoid harm to aquatic life when they are running.

They will protect eels as they leave the drain and enter the Ouse on the first stage of their migration to the Sargasso sea to spawn.

A fish pass will also be built, to allow elvers to enter the lode as they near the end of their journey to our shores.  

The drain and its neighbour the Mill Basin are also home to coarse fish species like pike and perch, while the banks are frequented by grey herons and barn owls.

The new station is expected to be operational by the autumn.