A £1.2m flood defence scheme in the village of Braunton in North Devon, delivered on behalf of the Environment Agency, has been officially opened.
Following floods in the village in 2004, the Environment Agency created a flood defence plan, working in liaison with the parish council.
The risk of flooding from the River Caen was around one in 20 in any one year, but the scheme has reduced this to around one in 100. The riverbed between Braunton bowling club and the village Memorial Gardens was very narrow and restricted flows in the river. The scheme has widened the river at this location to seven metres, and introduced a two-stage flood alleviation channel and new retaining walls, thereby reducing the risk of flood.
The design incorporated a low lying river walk surrounded by landscaped flood banks which allows the river to flood during peak rainfall, thereby increasing capacity and protecting residents and businesses. Throughout the works the bowling club was accessible and undisturbed.
Rosie Carr, Environment Agency project manager, said: “We have worked closely with local residents and our partners to deliver a scheme that will minimise the effects of flooding and reduce the damage it causes. Our flood schemes help prepare communities for future increases in flooding and a changing climate.”
The scheme was officially opened by James Morrish, chairman of the South West Flood and Coastal Erosion Committee, at a special ceremony in Braunton Memorial Gardens on 28 June.
During the ceremony, the Reverend Anne Thorne dedicated the memorial rose garden and an oak tree, with pupils from the local Caen Primary School in attendance.
Philip Ramsay, contracts manager for Team Van Oord, said: “The scheme was audited by the Environment Agency on health & safety and environmental criteria and received a 91% score, which is recognised nationally as an exemplary ranking.
“We held daily meetings on site with subcontractors to ensure that all site personnel were aware of current targets and progress, and a monthly progress meeting with the Environment Agency, project designers and supervisors ensured that quality was maintained and the programme adhered to.
“Through a combination of effective planning and project management we managed to meet the Environment Agency’s original programme, despite challenging winter conditions.”