Matt Warman, Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Boston and Skegness, has supported the Boston Barrier project at its public inquiry.
“This will be the biggest investment of public money in Boston’s history, delivered by a Conservative government. I was determined as an MP to ensure its safe passage, and I wanted to continue that service as a parliamentary candidate,” said Matt.
Giving evidence in favour of the £100m barrier on Friday 5th May, Matt detailed that safety is the most important aspect of the project, and the barrier must safeguard life and property first and foremost. He made clear, however, that he would seek a firm commitment to subsequent work which would help unlock the economic potential of the river, encouraging more businesses to open or expand, and making the most of the opportunities brought to the town by tourism.
Matt said, “I have supported the project since before the 2015 General Election, so it was very important to me to attend the public inquiry and continue to put forward the case for a barrier which will protect residents in the wider Boston area. I know that the vast majority of local residents agree with me that this investment in the town is long overdue, and I hope that the inquiry will also reach this verdict.”
Matt’s formal statement to the inquiry was as follows:
The fact that the flood barrier project is to be the subject of a public inquiry is welcome.
There is already widespread consensus that Boston needs the barrier and deserves what will be the single biggest investment of public money in the town certainly in recent times and possibly in its history.
But there are inevitably conflicting preferences on what precisely the barrier should do, how it should operate and on the details of what is a hugely complex operation.
For myself, I’m clear that there are three key aspects to this project: first, and most important, the barrier must protect people’s lives and property from the risk of flooding.
That public safety aspect is the most important single gain, and it is right that it trumps all other interests.
It would be wrong, however, to ignore the huge economic importance of the barrier. Done properly it will safeguard the fishing fleet and river users and it will protect businesses in the town as well.
This means that it unlocks potential investment in Boston and it encourages more businesses to open or expand. It underlines that infrastructure investment has both a preventative and a positive power.
Finally, there are the transformational possibilities: with water-level management of some sort Boston could become a town that faces the water, which reaps the huge benefits of all the tourism and commercial activities that come from a marina and more.
This is the true potential of a major project and I am pleased that the Environment Agency have sought to safeguard the possibility of introducing WLM in the future with this scheme.
In the first phase of the barrier, it is the safety and economic security that will be to the fore. But longer term that final aspect is also vital.