Work on new flood defences near Ouse Washes starts

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Media captionThe sandbag barrier has been welcomed by villagers in Welney

Work has started to build a temporary flood defence on a road near the Ouse Washes nature reserve on the Norfolk and Cambridgeshire border.

The Environment Agency is working with local councils to put sandbags across the Welney Road (A1101) at the Old Bedford Bridge.

It is in response to water levels rising on the Ouse Washes. Flood water is more than three metres above sea level.

The road was last sandbagged in 2007.

Alan Daniels, operations team leader for the Environment Agency, said: "The Welney Road goes over the Middle Level Barrier Bank on the west of the Ouse Washes and creates a low spot along this defence.

Birds of prey

"We will put approximately 30 one-tonne sandbags across the road to build a temporary continuous defence along the barrier bank.

"This is a planned activity which is triggered by water levels hitting a specific point. We haven't needed to do this for some time."

The Welney Causeway was closed by Norfolk County Council Highways department on 23 November and will remain closed until flood water has receded.

The Ouse Washes includes a large floodplain which is looked after by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and provides a habitat for the Bewick's swan and whooper swan and wintering birds of prey, including the hen harrier, merlin, peregrine falcon and short-eared owl.

It was created as a result of drainage of fenland in the 17th Century.

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