Flooding, HP

River Thames Scheme funding announced as part of Surrey Flood Alleviation Programme

Surrey County Council’s cabinet is set to agree £270 million of funding for long term flood risk management work across Surrey to protect homes and roads.

That includes a contribution to the River Thames Scheme, which will reduce flood risk to 15,000 properties and tens of thousands of people living and working near the Thames.

Costing £640 million, the scheme represents the largest investment in flood risk in the UK to date. £404 million has already been committed including £308 million government investment and £95 million of further partnership funding. The Environment Agency and the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead have also agreed contributions towards the scheme.

Tim Oliver, Leader of Surrey County Council, said: “The floods in 2014 were devastating for Surrey and ever since then it’s been clear we need to do all we can to make sure our residents and their properties are protected from such risks in the future.

“That’s why it’s vital that work such as the Surrey Flood Alleviation Programme gets the funding it needs. As well as developing a programme of flood works across the county it will make sure that the River Thames Scheme can proceed.”

The River Thames Scheme will create three flood alleviation channels alongside the River Thames and improve capacity at three weirs. It will run from Datchet in Berkshire, through Surrey to Teddington. The scheme will also support a greener future, with four country parks created as well as 23km of new footways and cycle paths.

Surrey County Council’s funding also includes £33 million to spend over 10 years on flood alleviation projects and other actions to minimise the impact of flooding on homes, businesses and infrastructure across the county. These could be jointly-funded, such as the recently unveiled flood alleviation scheme in Godalming which was funded by the Environment Agency, Surrey County Council and others.

The council is proposing to borrow some of the money as well as developing a masterplan to identify long term opportunities to help fund the works – such as new eco-communities with housing and employment on land unlocked by the River Thames Scheme.

Surrey County Council’s decision on Tuesday 29 October will be a significant step in demonstrating the River Thames Scheme’s affordability. It will build upon the ongoing investment to date and provide the confidence needed to proceed with the next steps of the scheme’s delivery. This will include requesting approval from HM Treasury and development of applications for the statutory consents required to enable the schemes construction.

Welcoming the news, Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency said: “The River Thames scheme is a vital project which will see thousands of homes, businesses and vital infrastructure better protected from flooding for decades to come.

“The huge scale of this project demonstrates what can be achieved when partners come together to achieve a common goal of helping to protect communities and boosting the local economy whilst also establishing a lasting green legacy for the area.”

Notes to editors

· The River Thames Scheme will reduce flood risk to people living and working near the Thames, enhance the resilience of nationally important infrastructure, contribute to a vibrant local economy and maximise the social and environmental value of the river.

· We will build a new flood channel alongside the River Thames to reduce flood risk to 15,000 properties in communities in Datchet, Wraysbury, Egham, Staines, Chertsey, Shepperton, Weybridge, Sunbury, Molesey, Thames Ditton, Kingston and Teddington.

· The channel will be built in three sections and include increasing the capacity of Desborough Cut and weirs at Sunbury, Molesey, and Teddington by installing additional weir gates.

· The latest design proposals include 106 hectares of new public open space and 23km of new pathways along with improved biodiversity for wildlife through the creation of 250 hectares of new habitat; strengthening communities.

· There have been serious floods in this area over the past 100 years, namely in: 1947, 1968, 2003 and most recently between 2013 and 2014

· During January and February 2014 there was prolonged and widespread flooding with approximately 1,000 homes and many businesses affected. The River Thames is slow to rise and fall and it takes weeks for flood water in this area to dissipate, prolonging the devastation.

· The scheme partners are: Elmbridge Borough Council, Environment Agency, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, Runnymede Borough Council, Spelthorne Borough Council, Surrey County Council, Thames Regional Flood and Coastal Committee and Thames Water.

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