Having been awarded the £10.5million Earthworks contract, Mick George Ltd has recently set to work on raising the flood banks at the Ouse Washes reservoir, spanning Cambridgeshire and Norfolk, sub-contracting to JacksonHyder, in this Environment Agency project.
The development in its entirety is estimated at a value of £27million, and is a consequence of recent inspection under the Reservoirs Act 1975, whereby recommendations for Matters in the Interests of Safety (MIOS) were made.
Originally constructed during the 1630’s as part of the drainage of the Fens, the embankments have been repeatedly modified and repaired, until major works were last undertaken between 1990 and 1996 to raise and formalise the banks’ with imported, locally sourced materials. The embankments themselves comprise of Kimmeridge Clay, Glacial Till and Overburden Hoggin, but with compressible peat and tidal flat deposits lying beneath.
The project is primarily concerned with raising the height of the Middle Level Barrier Bank between 60cm and 80cm right along the 30km embankment stretch, from Earith to Welmore Lake Sluice, Salters Lode. Mick George Ltd will for the main part act as a major supplier of the clay materials, as well as completing the formation of the banks.
This is the first stage of the flood defence scheme, which is anticipated to take up to 3 years to complete, with work limited through summer to autumn, to avoid disturbance of breeding birds at this internationally important habitat, with the location identified of particular conservation interest.
The first year of works will concentrate on areas through Welney and Mepal, on the Middle Level Barrier Bank and between Sutton Gault and Chain Corner on the South Level Barrier Bank. Following construction works there will be a further two years of maintenance works to establish a good grass cover which is important to ensure the stability of the banks.
The flood bank is the dam of the flood storage reservoir, the area of the Ouse Washes which is deliberately flooded.
When full, the reservoir stores approximately 90,000,000m3 of water, enough water to fill Wembley Stadium 22 times over. The reservoir protects thousands of properties, roads, railways and more than 67,000 hectares of farmland from winter flooding.
Michael George, Contracts Director at Mick George Ltd commented: ‘’We’re extremely pleased to be working on this project. The site has a lot of heritage, and we believe, being a local company serving the surrounding regions on a daily basis, that we are best placed to deliver the project with the attention that is required.’’
George continued: ‘’We recognise the impact that the current failures of the embankments have on nearby residents, visitors and business operators like ourselves, so have a vestured interest in enhancing the location to the highest standard.’’
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