Community praise for flood defence scheme

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The Braunton flood defence scheme has been praised by two sections of the the local community.

The £1.2m scheme, delivered by Team Van Oord on behalf of the Environment Agency, has reduced the risk of flooding from the River Caen from around one in 20 to around one in 100 in any one year.

The riverbed between Braunton Bowling Club and the village Memorial Gardens has been widened and a two-stage flood alleviation channel and new retaining walls introduced.

A low lying river walk surrounded by landscaped flood banks allows the river to flood during peak rainfall, thereby increasing capacity and protecting residents and businesses.

The scheme was officially opened by James Morrish, chairman of the South West Flood and Coastal Erosion Committee, on 28 June.

A number of boulders strategically placed in the middle of the river to enhance fish lies have delivered an unplanned additional benefit by enhancing the environment for another indigenous species.

Paul and Ro Madgett, members of the North Devon Natural History Network, wrote to the Environment Agency to say: “Dippers are quite familiar birds in North Devon and we have some breeding in the middle of Braunton.

“A few days ago we took an early evening walk and were surprised to see several boulders strategically placed in the middle of the stream at intervals.

“The white splashes on top and down the sides (of the boulders) immediately showed why these had been so-placed, and sure enough there was the Dipper a little further up-stream.

“Congratulations to the Environment Agency and its contractors!”

The project team went to great lengths to work with the local community to minimise disruption to normal life while the works were taking place. As an example, the village bowling club remained accessible and open throughout the project, and at the end Willie Bradford, chair of Braunton Bowling Club, wrote to thank the Environment Agency.

Mr Bradford said: “I am writing to thank your agency and the contractors for the way in which they co-operated with Braunton Bowling Club during the past few months. We are all impressed at how conscious you were of the possible problems that we would be facing, and how you and the contractors alleviated them.

“Everyone remarks on how the area has been improved and the loss of part of the garden strip was a small price to pay for this improvement.”

Jim Faux, Environment Agency, added: “This is high praise bearing in mind that they do not benefit from the scheme, they have lost a strip of land and they have had four months of construction in their club in their centennial year.”

September 2012