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Council tax could rise to fund River Thames Scheme cash shortfall

Council tax bills in the Royal Borough could be increased to plug a multi-million pound funding shortfall for the long-awaited River Thames Scheme.

The project, which is expected to cost £640million, proposes building three flood alleviation channels alongside the Thames to protect homes and businesses from flooding.

The first channel will run from Datchet, which was submerged during the floods of 2014, through Surrey to Teddington.

Funding for the project is being provided by the Government and local authorities in the affected region.

The Royal Borough has already committed £10million but said an additional £43million is needed in order to complete the Berkshire section of the project.

A council spokeswoman said: “Currently, funding for the Berkshire scheme has not been resolved but we will continue to work with the River Thames Scheme to identify funding for this part of the scheme in the future. We are looking at a number of options, including the possible introduction of a flooding levy which would add a small amount to council tax over a number of years to fund the Berkshire section of the River Thames Scheme.

“This requires the government to introduce a legislative change which we will continue to lobby for once we are in a position to do so after the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Cllr Ewan Larcombe (National Flood Prevention Party, Datchet, Horton and Wraysbury) told the Express he feared the Berkshire section of the project would not go ahead if the council failed to stump up more funding.

He said: “While the borough carry on as they are I can’t see how that channel will go ahead and we’ll just be left with Datchet, Horton, Wraysbury and Old Windsor at serious risk of flooding.”

Cllr Larcombe said he did agree in principle with the proposal of a flood levy.

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