Huge £30 million wildlife scheme on the Humber approved

A controversial £30 million scheme to move flood defences inland and create a new wildlife habitat has been approved after councillors narrowly voted in its favour.

The30m scheme is needed because hard defences - including Hulls new 42m tidal wall - are robbing bird of their natural habitat, mud flats and saltmarsh.
The30m scheme is needed because hard defences - including Hulls new 42m tidal wall - are robbing bird of their natural habitat, mud flats and saltmarsh.

The project by the Environment Agency (EA) and Associated British Ports will see flood defences south of Patrington moved inland and more than 400 acres of agricultural land become new intertidal habitat after a breach is made in the old embankment.

East Riding councillors meeting in Beverley today were told the scheme would help the Agency discharge its legal obligations and also create valuable habitat for birds including golden plover, curlews and redshank, so the Humber remains a “unique environment”.

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The scheme was approved six votes to five following concerns raised by the South Holderness Internal Drainage Board.

The IDB says moving the defences would leave an “obsolete” pumping station, which failed in 2007, on a promontory, potentially making it unsafe for staff and contractors to access during a flood.

However the meeting was told the Agency was committed to working with the IDB, and one option was to relocate the Outstrays station to a more “climate resilient” location.

They insist the proposals will not, as the IDB has suggested, increase flood risk elsewhere.

The new flood banks will be at least half-a-metre higher than the existing ones dating back to the 1950s, offering a one-in-500 year level of protection.

Speaking after the meeting Andrew Newton, Humber Programme Manager for the Environment Agency, said: “We are very pleased that the planning committee has given the Outstrays to Skeffling Managed Realignment Scheme the go-ahead.

“It is great news for communities along the north bank of the Humber estuary at risk of flooding because the compensatory habitat it provides will allow further flood alleviation schemes to go ahead around the Humber estuary to go ahead.”