Environment Agency sets out options for £5m+ Guildford flood scheme

The Environment  Agency has published a paper setting out the possible options for the proposed £5 million-plus Guildford flood alleviation scheme.

Guildford has a history of flooding, most recently in December 2013 when 92 properties were recorded to have flooded. The town also experienced flooding in 2000, when 29 properties were flooded, and significantly in 1968 when significant parts of the town were flooded.

There are currently 203 residential properties and 133 commercial properties in Guildford town Centre at a 1% or higher annual risk of flooding. The figure is predicted to rise in future with the predicted effects of climate change. Major roads, railway lines and businesses could also be affected by flooding.

Guildford is also affected by surface water flooding with water from heavy and persistent rainfall running off land and hard surfaces, and particularly the steep slopes of the town leading down to the River Wey at the valley bottom.

Since the winter 2013 to 2014 floods, the Environment Agency project team has been working with partners including Surrey County Council, Guildford Borough Council, Thames Water, M3 Enterprise Local Enterprise Partnership, Thames Regional Flood and Coastal Committee, the National Flood Forum and the Guildford Flood Action Group, to develop a scheme.

The Agency and Surrey County Council are working in partnership to ensure that options on reducing the risk of flooding from surface water flooding are included within the design approach.

The proposals under consideration will address flood risk in Guildford both directly from the river and indirectly from overwhelmed surcharged local drainage systems.

Investigations have confirmed that a combination of permanent and temporary flood defence walls will bring significant flood-relief benefits to parts of Guildford town Centre. However, the flood plain will still play an important role in managing flood risk in Guildford.

TheAgency said the Guildford project team is working to reduce flood risk, not to transfer it from one place to another. The scheme will be designed to ensure that flood risk to communities both upstream and downstream does not increase.

Over the summer, the Environment Agency is developing designs for different options for flood walls and barriers, including different routes and construction approaches.

Partnership funded still needed for before scheme gets go-ahead

The current projected cost of the scheme is approximately £5.6 million and will involve a mixture of funding from central government, the M3 Enterprise Local Enterprise Partnership, Thames Regional Flood and Coastal Committee and local councils.

However, the Environment Agency said further contributions will still be needed to enable construction – the project team is looking to work in partnership with developers, other risk management authorities, infrastructure operators and existing businesses and groups.

Sufficient partnership funds for the scheme will have to be secured before the scheme can start developing detailed designs and construction. Work is ongoing to seek funding from a combination of partners involved with the project including Surrey County Council, Guildford Borough Council, Thames Water, the Thames Regional Flood and Coastal Committee, as well as those development sites potentially benefiting from the work.

Provided the scheme is fully approved and funded, the earliest work can be expected to start is winter 2018. Construction is expected to be completed by 2020.