A dam good initiative

A £12m scheme to protect 600 homes and businesses in Wigan from flooding has been completed.

The massive £12m construction, which took two years of planning and building, now lies across the River Douglas, between Coppull Lane and Leyland Mill Lane, Swinley.

Pictured are Gillian Bishop, Corporate Director for Wigan Council, Councillors Shirley and Mike Dewhurst, from Douglas Ward, the Mayor of Wigan Councillor Joy Birch and Consort Albert Bradley with Lord Chris Smith

Pictured are Gillian Bishop, Corporate Director for Wigan Council, Councillors Shirley and Mike Dewhurst, from Douglas Ward, the Mayor of Wigan Councillor Joy Birch and Consort Albert Bradley with Lord Chris Smith

During a major flood, water would be held behind the dam to reduce the chance of defences further downstream in Wigan from being overtopped.

The excess water would then be stored in the valley upstream from the dam, which would be slowly released back into the river until normal levels were achieved.

Instead of being a concrete monstrosity, engineers from the Environment Agency have done their best to blend its features into the landscape, with trees and greenery surrounding the construction.

To enhance the area for the benefit of both residents and wildlife, engineers have been landscaping and invited local residents and councillors to plant trees, as well as wildflower plants and aquatic species to enhance biodiversity.

Lord Chris Smith, Environment Agency chairman, said: “We are very proud to have put this in place.

“The local residents are very relieved that they now have a much less risk of flooding than before.

“We have tried to blend the construction into the landscape, so instead of it being a huge concrete dam, it will be much greener and we will have more trees planted.

“People will still be able to come for a walk and it will be a place for recreation.” Coun David Molyneux, Wigan cabinet member for the economy, said: “This is such an important scheme to Wigan. I think people fail to understand that when they see the River Douglas on a calm day, it can actually flood the town, and that was the danger we faced.”

Full story in this week’s Wigan Observer ... on sale now