Calls to finish Thatcham's flood defences

Flooding elsewhere in UK will not impact Thatcham financially

Calls to finish Thatcham's flood defences

FLOODING in the North of England is not expected to have any financial impact on flood defences for Thatcham.

Thousands of people in Cumbria, Lancashire and West Yorkshire have been left with flooded homes after three storms battered the north west in December.

The high rainfall caused rivers to burst their banks, flooding roads, closing schools and knocking out power.

The scenes echoed that of Thatcham in July 2007 when more than 1,100 homes flooded after three months worth of rain fell on the town in 24 hours.

The devastation forced hundreds of families out of their homes, some for up to 18 months after the waters subsided.

A plan was drawn up to protect the town, which includes four ponds to hold back excess rain water and allow it to flow into sewers at a controlled rate.

The first pond, at the bottom of Cold Ash Hill, was completed in August last year. Work on the second, off of Tull Way, is scheduled to start in spring.

Thatcham Flood Forum is raising funds to unlock more government funding for the last two ponds, to be built above the Dunstan Park and Kennet Lea and Heath estates.  

The third pond is being put through an Environment Agency approval process.

The last, and deemed most vital piece, is currently not in the agency’s rolling six-year programme.

Calling the northern floods a wake-up call on flood defences, the forum’s chairman, Iain Dunn, said it would be sensible to finish schemes that would protect the town.

“You can’t do much about rivers but you can do something about surface water flow,” he said.

“It does raise the question as to whether [Thatcham’s] surface water management plan should get some priority in its entirety.”

Referring to the impact of other floods on Thatcham’s funding, Mr Dunn said that money had been diverted after the Somerset levels flooded in the winter of 2013/14.

In June last year the MP for Newbury, Richard Benyon, asked the government whether it could ‘look closely’ at Thatcham’s case.

Following the northern floods, Mr Dunn said he would consider asking Mr Benyon to try and put more pressure on the government to release the funds.

Speaking to the NWN, Mr Benyon said he did not think that money for Thatcham would be diverted as flood defences were assessed on a risk basis.

Mr Benyon said that funding for feasibility assessments was in place and that he was optimistic that money for the final ponds would be secured.

Saying that the flooded homes in Thatcham were seared on his memory, Mr Benyon said the “ongoing work to protect communities like Thatcham has never been more important”.

To find out more about Thatcham Flood Forum, contact enquiries@thatchamfloodforum.org.uk

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