The End of Flooding?


Heritage Lottery FundThe road at Welney crossing the Ouse Washes, the A1101, was opened again just over a week ago. The road was not shut down as long as in the winter of 2006-07, but with nearly 2 months’ closure, the effects were nevertheless felt widely.

The A1101 was closed for 46 days – it opened again just over a week ago

This flooding period the Ouse Washes has been in the news regularly, particularly because of irresponsible drivers who ignored the warnings and drove over the flooded road anyway. Watch here the video of a driver who filmed himself while driving across the flooded A1101; at one point in the film, even the whole of the bonnet submerges. Although plainly very dangerous, it does nevertheless give a good impression of the enormous amount of water within the Ouse Washes when flooded.

In the media the focus has mainly been on the economic costs to businesses in and around Welney – see, for instance this piece which appeared in the EDP last week, providing an understanding of the loss of custom and the high petrol costs for people who have to drive an extra 30 miles when the road is flooded. What I am also interested in is to hear from locals what it feels like when the road is flooded. Do the communities feel cut off from the world? Does this provide for a feeling of isolation and remoteness? Or are there perhaps any positive aspects about the situation as well? Does it bring people in the community closer together, for instance? I would be grateful if people would let me know what they think.

Welney Wash - flooded

Welney Wash when flooded

Regardless of the effects the flooding of the Ouse Washes has on communities and individuals, it is worth considering that it is actually quite amazing that in the twenty-first century we are still dictated by the landscape as it was originally created in the 17th century: the massive engineered Old and New Bedford rivers with the washes within, together cutting a very long and straight feature through the landscape for tens of miles, literally dividing the landscape and its communities during flooding periods.

At the moment, the water levels in the rivers have gone down to more manageable levels. The Environment Agency has developed a useful interactive map to check the river water levels at various checkpoints in the area. You can also find out about the latest flooding news for the region here. Once the snow starts melting, the water levels may rise again, so keep a close eye on the situation.

This entry was posted in Area descriptions, Communities, Flooding, Theme 1-Water Everywhere, Theme 4-Migration Stories and tagged , , , , , , , by markatousewasheslps. Bookmark the permalink.

About markatousewasheslps

I am currently coordinating a partnership-led bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (for a circa £600K Heritage Grant bid) focusing on strengthening the unique yet vulnerable natural heritage in the Cambridgeshire Fens surrounding the Old west River, the new 'New Life on the Old West' project. Until recently I was the Programme Manager for the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership scheme, leading on the 1-year development and 3-year delivery phases of the Heritage Lottery Fund grant-aided Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership (OWLP) scheme (from Dec 2012 until March 2017), on behalf of and in close cooperation with a wide range of local, regional and national partner organisations. The Ouse Washes LP's portfolio of 51 projects have focused on: conservation works to historic and natural environmental assets; improving community participation & engagement with the landscape and its heritage; increasing access and learning opportunities; and providing more opportunities for training in traditional land management skills. The overall aim has been to leave a long-term legacy for this fascinating and unique landscape, in the process creating tangible improvements to social, economic and environmental aspects of this landscape, its heritage and communities.

1 thought on “The End of Flooding?

  1. A few weeks in the new year and the road is closed again; has been for the last few days already which, if you use the Welney Causeway regularly, you probably already know about.

    What with climate change undeniably leading to more irregular but more heavy downpours, it is likely that the road will have to be closed more often in the future. What do you think needs doing to help local communities?

Comments are closed.