The £100 million Boston Barrier flood was closed for the first time on Sunday to defend against the threat of rising waters due to forecast high tides and stormy conditions.
The 300-tonne barrier gate was raised for around 20 minutes at 4.45am on November 7 to protect Boston from tidal flooding.
The Environment Agency said the closure will reduce the risk of flooding to more than 13,000 homes and 800 businesses in the area. It also helped to record data that can be used to further improve its use in the future.
Boston lies entirely within a floodplain and the town is at risk of flooding from tidal surges. It has a history of tidal flooding and was flooded in 1953, 1978, and in 2013 when more than 800 properties across 55 streets were flooded.
The Boston Barrier is part of the government’s long-term investment in flood and coastal defences. Test closures have taken place every month since the barrier became fully operational in December last year, but this was the first time it had been closed for defensive purposes.
In a social media post on Sunday, Boston Barrier said: “In the small hours of the morning, whilst many were sleeping, the Boston Barrier primary gate was operated for the first time to protect the residents and properties in the town from a high tide.
“This is a momentous moment for Boston and comes just two years after the primary gate was delivered and installed in 2019.”
Adam Robinson, Boston Barrier project director for the Environment Agency, said: “Of course, it’s impossible to completely eliminate the risk of flooding – and people should always make sure they plan for the worst and sign up to receive warnings – but we can manage that risk, as the barrier will do here in Boston.”
The Environment Agency is urging people to plan ahead for flooding by finding out if their property is in an at-risk area and signing up to free flood warnings – see more information here or call Floodline on 0345 988 1188.