Skegness MP Matt Warman has vowed businesses and homes will be protected after fears the area would have been flooded had it experienced the same amount of rain that saw devastation in Northumberland.
Earlier this month, Coun Chris Pain, member of Lincolnshire County Council for Wainfleet and Burgh, expressed his concerns after Storm Desmond forced the River Tyne to burst its banks at the village of Corbridge.
Coun Pain, who has called several emergency meetings at the county council regarding the River Steeping, said: “The river would have been flooded to Skegness if Lincolnshire had had the rain like near Corbridge, which was about seven inches on one day.”
He claims failure by the Environment Agency (EA) to dredge the river threatens ‘a thousand houses in Wainfleet, businesses, lives, livelihoods, prime arable land and important infrastructure’.
Mr Warman said maintaining the safety of all those who live near the River Steeping was ‘of vital importance’.
He said: “It is vital that banks are strengthened if land, businesses and homes are to be protected.
“I will continue to work with all those involved to make sure that this costly project is completed as planned within the next financial year.
“I will continue to explore the best available options to manage flood risk and improve the river environment.”
The EA said since the river overtopped in 2007, works had been carried out to reduce risk of flooding, such as repairing banks, improving sluice gates and removing silt from a section of river upstream of Wainfleet. It added removing silt will not make a difference to normal water levels, as these are governed by other factors.
John Ray, senior coastal advisor at the EA , said: “We are working in partnership with local authorities and the internal drainage board to look at the best way to reduce flood risk to people and property in the Steeping River catchment.
“We prioritise our investment so that public money is spent on the works that provide the greatest flood risk benefits per pound of funding spent. For the Steeping, our modelling has shown that de-silting alone would not have sufficient impact on reducing flood risk in the area and it would not be possible to justify the cost given the current government rules.
“Our investigations have shown that strengthening the banks, particularly those along the Wainfleet Relief Channel, is the most effective way to reduce flood risk in the area. A breach in the banks poses a greater flood risk to properties, especially around Wainfleet, than any silt within the channel. We are currently developing a business case for the bank works and seeking to secure funding, aiming to start work in 2016/17.
“However, it’s also important to recognise that the amount of rainfall which led to the flooding in the north of England recently was unprecedented – the rain that fell on Cumbria would have equated to around two-thirds of Lincolnshire’s annual rainfall landing in one day and naturally would create a serious flooding problem wherever it fell. Whilst Lincolnshire has good defences it must be remembered that no defence will ever completely remove the risk of flooding and we would remind everyone to check their risk and sign up for free flood warnings by calling 0345 988 1188.”