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Environment Agency announce works to Kenwith Dam Flood Defence to commence in July

Kenwith Dam and Path

Kenwith Dam and Path

The Environment Agency, working in partnership with Torridge District Council, have announced plans to carry out works on the flood defences situated within Kenwith Valley Nature Reserve, in a project commencing 10th July 2023. The work has been commissioned following the findings of a 10 yearly inspection required under the Reservoirs Act 1975. Measures recommended within the report will ensure that the reservoir  is safe and resilient to manage flood risks well into the future.

The last major improvements to the scheme were made in 1995 and the scheme has performed well since then. Prior to the Reservoir being constructed, flooding in Bideford was a much more common occurrence, and in 1979, 250 properties were flooded to a depth of 1.5 metres.

The proposed works will be carried out in two phases, with phase 1 to include an extension to the dam embankment crest kerbing on both the northern and southern flanks, ground investigations, and improvements to the culvert taking water away from the dam. Mandatory deadlines require these works to be completed by October 2024. A programme in advance of this date is being implemented to ensure any slippages or additional works identified can be completed within the mandatory timescales.

This phase of works is expected to last around 12 weeks, with some restrictions to pedestrian access during the first two to five weeks. A safe alternative route will be provided throughout this time.

Phase 2 will be dependent on outputs from the phase 1 investigations, with an aim to improve resilience of the dam further. Construction works for the second phase are proposed to be undertaken in 2024/2025, following design. Some landscape improvements will also be required, which will include the removal of some trees. However, in common with other  Environment Agency schemes, new trees will be planted with the aim to replant at a ratio of 5 trees to every tree that is removed. The Environment Agency will be working closely with Torridge District Council to meet this objective. The project will also aim to provide a biodiversity net gain of 20% overall, including a new bankside artificial holt to attract otters.

Mike Day - Lead Ranger for Northam Burrows and Kenwith Valley said:

"I'm really glad we've had an opportunity to work closely with the Environment Agency to plan these works as it will hopefully keep any disruption to visitors and wildlife to an absolute minimum. The scheme has also addressed a positive contribution and gain in biodiversity as well as ensuring the dam is fit for purpose in the coming years. It will be fantastic to see more otters attracted to the site as well!"    

David Harker - Environment Agency Catchment Engineer & Reservoir Act Co-ordinator said:

"It's been a real team effort in the planning of these works, which will see the resilience of the dam maintained for future generations. We would like to thank users of the reserve in advance for their patience and will monitor and adjust as we progress the scheme to keep any disruption to a minimum."

30 June 2023

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