The Environment Agency has moved a step closer to submitting the planning application for the £450 million-plus River Thames flood defence scheme with the completion of the final outline design.
Over the last 4 years the Agency have been developing the design of the River Thames Scheme to reduce flood risk to 15,000 homes and 2,400 businesses in communiities along the Thames between Datchet and Teddington.
The scheme will also strengthen the resilience of critical infrastructure, including road, rail, power and water networks . In addition, 106 hectares of new public open space and 23km of new pathways will be created, as well as improving biodiversity for wildlife through the creation of 250 hectares of new habitat.
Between 2020 and 2025 the Environment Agency will build a new flood channel alongside the River Thames to reduce flood risk to properties in communities in Datchet, Wraysbury, Egham, Staines, Chertsey, Shepperton, Weybridge, Sunbury, Moseley, Thames Ditton, Kingston and Teddington.
The channel will be built in 3 sections and includes widening of the Desborough Cut and increasing the capacity of weirs at Sunbury, Moseley and Teddington by installing additional weir gates.
As part of the design phase, several changes have been made to the original alignment set out in the Lower Thames Flood Risk Management Strategy in 2009, including shortening the channel to just under 15km.
During construction, materials dug out to create the flood channel will be used to create four new country parks, which will avoid the need for thousands of additional lorries on local roads. The flood channel itself will provide opportunities for fishing, boating and canoeing on some sections.
The Environment Agency commented:
“There is a lot of work to do to make this vision a reality. The team will continue to talk to partners, statutory bodies and communities to develop the design for these areas in the next phase of design work leading up to the submission of the River Thames Scheme planning application.”
In 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 estimated economic impact of a major flood is currently around £1 billion but damage could be twice as great by 2055 because of the impact of climate change.
£354 million, more than half the funding required for the construction of the scheme, has now been identified. This includes government investment of more than £290 million and partnership funding of more than £60 million. Partners are continuing to work together on negotiations with government, business and industry to secure the remaining funding. The total estimated costs of the scheme has been revised upwards to £478 million – compared to a 2009 estimate of £302 million
Preparations for the planning application and next phase of design work are underway. The planning application will include the opportunity for communities to discuss the proposals and details of how to get involved will be published later this year.