WORK is set to start on the last stage of a £1 million project to restore a rundown pumping station in a bid to protect two villages from flooding.

The Environment Agency has announced the last stage of work to refurbish the Parkeston Pumping Station at the lower end of the Dock River.

The station, which helps to protect homes and businesses in the area from the risk of flooding, has been undergoing a two-year overhaul.

The largest and final stage of the work is the replacement of the debris screen, the concrete river banks and a footbridge.

New piping will also be installed for emergency pumps, should they be needed.

Robert Brown, Environment Agency project lead, said parts of the structure had been deteriorating due to age and need replacing.

He said: “The work will ensure the pumping station can provide the best possible level of flood protection to the low lying areas of Parkeston and Ramsey.

“Without the weed screen the pumps would block and the water levels would rise significantly until they reached the lowest point of the railway embankment.

“We have also been reviewing our emergency plans for the site.

“In the unlikely event the site has a problem we can set up large temporary pumps.

“Currently, this would involve closing the railway line, so we are installing permanent pipework to allow the railway to continue to operate.”

The Dock River cannot naturally flow into the Stour estuary so all of the water, including flood water, needs to be lifted up by the pumps into the estuary.

The pumps can lift up to three tonnes of water a second, so the station needs to have a debris screen to ensure they do not get blocked with vegetation and rubbish.

The work, being undertaken by contractors Jackson Civil Engineering, will start soon and last for around 18 weeks.

Bill Davidson, Tendring councillor for Parkeston, said: “This is a welcome project.

“The old pumps were getting tired, they have been there for a long, long time.

“The new pumps are bigger and better and it will stop flooding in Parkeston and the surrounding area.

“Prevention is better than cure - it’s not worth the risk.”