River works will cut flood risk

Published on 09 March 2015

MAJOR works along the River Soar are due to be carried out as part of works to tackle flood risk.

The Environment Agency (EA) is spearheading a number of projects designed to improve the flow of floodwater by landscaping parts of the river banks, installing culverts, cutting back overgrown trees and reducing obstacles on the flood plain either side of the River Soar itself.

Leicester City Council, which is working with the EA on the schemes, will also use the works to improve riverside facilities, footpaths and other access points.

The works are part of a major package of flood risk management schemes in Leicester, for which the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has earmarked £31m.

Some work has already taken place, including clearing silt and overgrown vegetation from the arches beneath the Great Central Way Bridge over the River Biam between Braunstone and Aylestone.

The next phase of work is due to start in April, and will include extensive improvements along the River Soar between Abbey Pumping Station and Watermead Way.

It will include major landscaping works at the John Ellis Playing Fields, near Corporation Road, new footpaths and a new wetland area near the site of the Bath Street Tip, along with improvements to land at the Co-op sports pitches next to Watermead Way.

The city council is working with the EA on the scheme designs to ensure they make the most of opportunities for better access, cycling links and developing biodiversity.

Preparatory works have already begun, including cutting back scrub and bushes, and surveying wild animal habitats.

A display of the planned flood risk management works will be shown at the Belgrave and Latimer ward community meeting on March 10, in addition to leaflets being handed out in Belgrave and a display at the local library.

Leicester City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “The River Soar running through the heart of the city means we have a fantastic natural habitat and riverside area, but also means parts of the city face risks from flooding.

“We’re working with the Environment Agency to ensure that these plans address flood risk, and give us the chance to make improvements to the riverside environment.

“For example, some of the EA plans involve lowering areas of riverbank to allow the watercourses to work more efficiently.

“At the Co-operative Sports Pitches, the one nearest the River Soar is to be lowered to improve flood water flow beneath Watermead Way, and the pitch nearest to Birstall Road will be raised to stop it from flooding.

“There’s also a chance to form a new wetland area as part of these works, and to protect existing colonies of wildlife such as water voles and otters.

"I'm very pleased with the work the Environment Agency are doing to tackle flooding risk, and the way they're working with us to get extra benefit from it, for the environment, the people of the city and the natural habitat."

Future phases of the Environment Agency project also include creating a new culvert beneath the Loughborough Road bridge in Belgrave, and improving the shape of the land near the ancient Thurcaston Road bridge.