Horncastle escapes major flooding misery, thanks to one of the largest protection schemes of its kind in the UK.
Legal and rural land experts involved in creating Horncastle’s multi-million-pound flood alleviation scheme have spoken of the benefits of the project, as the town escaped the severe consequences of recent heavy rainfall.
And they have been informed by the local rural community, whose land is part of the scheme, that this weekend was the fifth time this year that excess water from the River Bain has flooded into the 200-acre ‘bowl’ – created to protect Horncastle. When initially constructed past data was examined and, on that basis, it was believed its use would be just once every 10 years.
This, they add, proves the importance of official agencies, landowners and local organisations working together to prepare for, and prevent, future flooding.
While the downpours late last week caused swelling of the River Bain, major flooding in the town was prevented.
While there was a flood alert in place for the river’s catchment area, there were no reports of anything severe made to the Police or the Fire and Rescue Service – unlike the events of 2007. It was the terrible floods 12 years ago, which provided the trigger for the town’s alleviation scheme
Work started on the £8.1m Horncastle project in 2015 and was completed two years later with 200-acres of agricultural land creating a single flood storage reservoir upstream of the town. It is one of the largest schemes of its kind in the UK.
Two local firms, Wilkin Chapman solicitors and Robert Bell and Company, were deployed to act for the farmers affected by the scheme and liaise with the official partners delivering the scheme - the Horncastle Town Council, Environment Agency, Lincolnshire County Council, East Lindsey District Council, Anglian Water and the Lindsey Marsh and Witham Third Internal Drainage Boards.
Wilkin Chapman Senior Partner Andrew Holt said proof that the scheme was doing its job came after last week’s heavy rain.
“All those involved with this project have a very keen interest in how it has helped to alleviate the threat of flooding for the people of Horncastle. It must be dreadful to live in the knowledge that every time we have prolonged wet spells your homes, businesses and possessions may be destroyed,” said Andrew.
“The preparatory work to see the scheme through to its completion was often complex and lengthy, as we worked together to gain permission to flood the land required. However, there was no doubt of the need for this to be delivered and that is highlighted by recent events,” he added.
George Harrison, Head of Agricultural Surveying at Robert Bell and Company, keeps in contact with the landowners, who report that the land has flooded five times in 2019 – water that would have otherwise flowed downstream.
“Whether or not the weather patterns we are experiencing will continue remains to be seen, but the farmers are certainly reporting far more frequent flooding than anticipated. They are all happy to be part of the scheme. Horncastle has done a lot of good for the farming community and the farmers were happy to support this,” said George.
“The people who live and visit Horncastle are also noticing that, while river levels are high, none of the flooding is on the same scale as it has been in previous years – part of that reason is the ability for numerous people and bodies to work together to have made this scheme a reality,” he added.