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The Environment Agency is set to start a £127,000 project to restore a 450 metre sea wall which will reduce the risk of flooding to a Hampshire community and also a highly protected conservation area.
Farlington Marshes is a much valued nature reserve and saline lagoon which supports a wide variety of wildlife including international important species of wildfowl, insects and plants. The coastal defences at the marshes near Portsmouth are currently in need of repair. This is due to a section of embankment being damaged which is undermining the defences in places. There are also drainage issues at the site and the footpath is also in need of maintenance.
Currently, if a large amount of sea water flows over the sea wall in a major storm, it could flow northwards through the A27 drain and underpass. This could result in a number of properties in Farlington being flooded.
In order to reduce the risk of flooding, the Environment Agency will be spending £250,000 on essential work which involves the construction of an extra section of wall to the north of the underpass, which can hold boards to keep flood water out. These boards will only be placed in this wall if a large storm is expected. They will be removed once the risk of flooding has passed.
Fish-friendly flap valves are also being installed on the drain to stop the flow of sea water upstream, but fresh water will still be able to flow downstream. Both of these structures will significantly reduce the amount of sea water flowing beyond the A27.
In order to carry out this necessary work, the footpath around Farlington Marshes is likely to be restricted or closed for about eight weeks starting in October 2012. The cycle path/footpath will remain open during this time, with temporary restrictions or diversions.
Mike O'Neill, Environment Agency Operations Manager, said:
"The marshes must be protected as much as possible from the threat of huge waves from coastal storms which could cause the sea wall to be breached. This could then lead to flooding of local properties and result in significant environmental damage to this popular and protected conservation area.
"I am very pleased that funding has been secured for this vital flood defence work and I would like to thank the community in advance for their understanding while construction is taking place.
"With our climate changing and sea levels rising, the risks and the number of people affected are likely to increase. We will never be able to stop flooding from happening altogether but we can significantly reduce the flood risk to the marshes through schemes such as this."
Bob Chapman, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust Solent Reserves Officer, said:
"The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust are pleased that the works will give some greater security from flooding for the nature reserve and surrounding area.
"We look forward to working closely with the Environment Agency to provide a sustainable future for the internationally important wildlife populations and the many visitors and local people who enjoy the Marshes."
Further information on the project is available by contacting the Environment Agency's general enquiries line on 03708 506506 or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
For more general information on how to prepare for flooding and the latest flood warnings in force visit: www.environment-agency.gov.uk or ring Floodline on 08459 881188.