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13:01 Saturday 31 December 2011  Written by Francis Batt

£2m flood relief plan in Old Windsor faces criticism

gen_floodingVital repairs to a flood scheme protecting 700 village homes could wreck the habitat of plants, birds and animals.

That is the warning from opponents of the £2million scheme to strengthen flood defences protecting 700 homes in Old Windsor. Residents in Ham Island fear the work on the Battle Bourne - a riverside bund with steel plates 20ft deep running from opposite the Royal Farm Shop in Datchet Road to Ham Island Bridge - could cause serious environmental damage.

But Amanda Nobbs who chairs the powerful Thames Flood and Coastal Committee which must approve the funding for the scheme, warned that the work was crucial to protecting the village. After visiting the site she said: "It is a special spot with a rugged and natural character. We want to find a way of retaining this but I won't pretend we can do this work and still leave everything unchanged."

She said her priority now was to see how Battle Bourne could be upgraded with minimal effect on the habitat. But she warned that if the work did not start within three months a large chunk of government funding could be lost, as changes to the funding system came into practice. This could leave local people and businesses facing a £400,000 bill for the work to be done, delaying it for years and leaving homes vulnerable to flooding.

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