Works to install a new multimillion-pound canal barrier at Forge Island are now underway as part of a key milestone in the Forge Island flood defence and enabling scheme.
These works form the central part of the Rotherham to Kilnhurst Flood Alleviation Scheme that the Council are already delivering along 5km of the River Don.
The new canal barrier joins the flood wall that has recently been constructed on Forge Island, which together will help reduce the risk of the River Don overtopping into the canal and flooding Rotherham town centre and the Central Railway Station.
Since June 2007 the Council has invested over £17m delivering flood defence schemes along the River Don corridor.
As well as being an integral part of the town centre flood defence, the canal barrier will add an impressive aesthetic element to the area, sitting alongside the Forge Island leisure development.
The flood defence scheme on and adjacent to Forge Island also includes improvements to the adjacent towpath, high-quality landscaping and new amphitheatre seating overlooking the lock.
Rotherham Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment, Cllr Dominic Beck, said: “The threat of flooding causes a great deal of stress and upset to both residents and local businesses, as well as potentially causing havoc to the transport infrastructure. We saw with the flooding of 2007 and 2019 the amount of devastation it can cause, having lasting effects for years to come.
“We are committed to preventing a repeat of the flooding we’ve seen in recent years and the installation of the canal barrier will help protect our vital town centre business and Central Train Station.”
The rail link at Rotherham has been badly affected by flooding on several occasions with Network Rail set to contribute £400,000 towards the delivery of the canal barrier to provide resilience to this section of their network.
Matt Rice, North and East Route Director for Network Rail, said: “We saw the significant impact that severe weather can have on the railway earlier this year when Storm Christoph brought heavy downpours across the North, flooding sections of track in Rotherham. At the time, we were able to keep passengers moving by diverting services but installing this new canal barrier will help reduce risk from future floods and reduce the impact on the railway.
“We’re delighted to be contributing towards the funding of the canal barrier as we continue to work closely with Rotherham Council and other partners to reduce the impact of severe weather on the railway, the town and the surrounding area.”
Work is due to be completed next summer. Until then the canal-side footpath and cycle route will be closed until August 2022 and a signed diversion is in place. Part of the Trans Pennine Trail will also operate with a diversion. The Statutes car park will remain open.
After a successful bid Jackson Civil Engineering Group Ltd has been awarded the construction contract following completion of the design by consultants Pell Frischmann.
A spokesperson for Jackson Civil Engineering Group Ltd commented: “Jackson is delighted to be delivering this exciting project and providing local residents and businesses in Rotherham with a vital piece of flood alleviation infrastructure.
“This scheme further bolsters the relationship we have with Rotherham Council and the good works we have already delivered on the wider Rotherham to Kilnhurst Flood Alleviation Scheme.”
Mark Duquemin, Head of Environmental Management and Sustainability for Pell Frischmann said: “We are very pleased to have carried out the design for this iconic structure with our design partners KGAL, providing mechanical & electrical services for the flood gate, and Ecus, providing landscape architecture services.
“We look forward to working with the Council and Jackson Civil Engineering Group Ltd during the construction of the canal barrier which, when finished, will reduce flood risk to the people and communities of Rotherham from flooding.”
Construction follows approvals by the Canal and River Trust and the Environment Agency to carry out the works to the canal and surrounding area.
Sean McGinley, director at the Canal and River Trust Yorkshire & North East, said: “We are delighted to be working with Rotherham Council on this project to protect the town from flooding.
“As a charity, we are always willing to work with partners to improve the infrastructure of our waterways, and we are pleased to have liaised closely with the Council during the concept and design of this project.”
Dave Ferguson at the Environment Agency commented: “This innovative new flood defence, combined with the new flood wall on Forge Island, will help reduce flood risk to homes, businesses and key transport infrastructure in Rotherham and improve resilience to the effects of climate change.
“We can never completely eliminate the risk of flooding, but people can ensure they are ready this autumn and winter by preparing a flood plan and signing up for free flood warnings.”