04:24PM, Thursday 13 August 2020
Datchet floods in 2014. Ref: 118970-26
A councillor has lashed out at a decision to remove Datchet and Wraysbury from a major flood alleviation scheme over ‘a small amount of money.’
The £640million River Thames Scheme was intended to build three flood alleviation channels alongside the River Thames to protect up to 15,000 homes from flooding.
However, a decision has been made to proceed with the scheme without channel one, which would have covered areas from Datchet to Bells Weir, despite the area being one of the worst affected during the 2014 floods.
It will progress with channel two and three, which run through Surrey to Teddington.
In 2017, the Royal Borough agreed to invest £53million into the scheme, and had so far set aside £10million.
But, writing on Facebook this week, Cllr David Cannon (Con, Datchet, Horton and Wraysbury) said the River Thames Scheme sponsoring group – which includes representatives from the Environment Agency, Thames Water and Surrey County Council – were ‘not prepared to wait’ for the Royal Borough to raise the remaining funds.
Surrey County Council invested £237 million for its section of the scheme in 2019.
The news has angered fellow Datchet, Horton and Wraysbury councillor Ewan Larcombe, who was elected for the National Flood Prevention Party in 2019.
He told the Express: “Here we are on the verge of getting the downstream extension and the tiny piece through Datchet, Horton and Wraysbury gets chopped for the sake of a small amount of money.”
He added: “I find it extraordinary that Surrey County Council can find £237million for their contribution to flood alleviation.”
Speaking at a flood liaison meeting on Wednesday, Cllr Cannon said: “Being a responsible council we don’t wish to borrow more money than we can afford to.”
He added: “There will be conversations between the Borough and the Environment Agency to understand what alternative flood alleviation schemes can be put in place to protect our residents rather than channel one.”
Speaking to the Express on Tuesday, Cllr Cannon said: “Although channel two will take some waters away from the reach between Datchet and Bells Weir, it will not give anywhere near the same protection to the community that channel one would have done.”
A spokesman from the Royal Borough added: “The council has demonstrated its commitment to this scheme by providing over £10million funding to date and had committed up to another £43million subject to Government enabling us to raise the funding to repay that amount.
“Unfortunately the required change of legislation hasn’t happened and the council cannot borrow the funding without the ability to refund it.
“We will continue to lobby Government to introduce a flooding levy on borough council tax which could fund the scheme.”
Top Ten Articles
The Royal Borough will ask Government to raise its status in the three-tier coronavirus alert system from Medium to High next week.