The Environment Agency (EA) has launched a “thorough investigation” into a flood-defence system that failed to protect homes from damage on 20 October during Storm Babet.
The £8.1m Horncastle flood-alleviation scheme in Lincolnshire was completed in 2017 by VBA, a joint venture of VolkerStevin, Boskalis Westminster and Atkins (now AtkinsRéalis).
The EA stated yesterday (26 October) that a sluice gate did not operate automatically, meaning the flood scheme was not able to store enough water when the storm hit. A “thorough investigation” has begun while the wider flood-response incident continues, it added.
EA area director Leigh Edlin said: “We are aware that the flood-alleviation scheme did not reduce flood risk to the extent it was designed to. We will continue our investigation and ensure we learn from its findings.”
The scheme aimed to reduce the risk to 169 properties in Horncastle of overflow from the River Bain. Lincolnshire County Council confirmed that up to 80 properties were flooded last week.
A flood-storage reservoir upstream of the water was planned to hold 1.5 million cubic metres of water. The scheme also included a large lake and wetland area, providing a habitat for water voles.
Elsewhere in Lincolnshire, a sister scheme in Louth, also built by VBA, operated as intended during the storm. The two water-storage projects opened 10 years after floods affected 200 properties in the area.
Lincolnshire councillor Colin Davie said: “The scheme did not work as it is designed to and, ultimately, that affected the extent of the flooding in the town and the number of properties that were affected.
“I hope the EA’s report leaves no stone unturned in investigating the circumstances of last week’s flooding, to stop this from happening again and save residents and businesses from further heartache.”
VolkerStevin, Boskalis Westminster and AtkinsRéalis were contacted for comment.