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Plans to double sandbag supplies in council flooding strategy

Public views are being sought on how West Berkshire deals with flooding.

New proposals include doubling the number of sandbags in council stores from 500 to 1,000.

The draft strategy also points to greater involvement with residents and community groups taking part in Flood Forums.

It is envisaged that the information provided at an ultra-local level will feed in to bigger data provided by the likes of the Environment Agency and Thames Water, which monitor river and ground water levels in order to intelligently predict flood levels in different areas.

West Berkshire Council executive member for planning, transport and countryside Richard Somner, (Con, Tilehurst South and Holybrook) said: "West Berkshire is a district with a vast landscape and residents and businesses have experienced first-hand the consequences of flooding.

"Owing to the effects of climate change, extreme weather events are predicted to become more likely and consequently this will lead to an increased risk of flooding.

"Whilst flooding can never be prevented, it can be predicted and the effects forecast; measures can then be put in place to manage the flooding and its consequences.

"Our strategy establishes a set of objectives and actions that monitors flood risk management both now and in the future, including environmental impacts such as sustainable drainage.

"That's why improving our knowledge and understanding of flood risk within West Berkshire is essential and we need the assistance of local communities to have their say on our consultation.

"I would encourage as many people as possible to read the strategy and provide their views before the deadline date.

"Your feedback will used to finalise the strategy, which will be considered by elected members at the executive meeting being held in December 2021."

In recent years, West Berkshire, along with many other parts of the UK, has suffered from a number of flooding events which have directly affected people’s lives, homes and businesses.

The West Berkshire Local Flood Risk Management Strategy aims to help reduce and manage flood risk.

Following unseasonably wet months in 2007 there was widespread flooding across West Berkshire affecting 2,500 homes.

Thatcham, Pangbourne, Bucklebury, Burghfield and Woolhampton were some of the worst affected places locally.

However almost all communities were affected due to the intensity and widespread nature of the rainfall.

The Environment Agency can use water levels to calculate how many days it will take before a known flood level is reached that could give rise to groundwater flooding.

The council has now put its draft flooding strategy out for public view, and aims to maintain and update understanding of flood risk within West Berkshire and increase public awareness.

West Berkshire Council will create a Flood Records database based on resident reports, and use Flood Forums to disseminate data.

Furthermore, it will provide support to schools and colleges to increase awareness of flood risk support the next generation of flood risk professionals.

It goes on to say that in order to plan for flood risk implications, flood risk should be considered at the pre-application stage for all development, and the relevant flood risk management authorities should be involved in these discussions.

Flooding in Thatcham in 2007 (50757620)
Flooding in Thatcham in 2007 (50757620)

The village of Bucklebury has experienced a number of floods since the early 1990s and further back in time there was a significant flood following a snow melt in 1907.

The extreme rainfall in July 2007 resulted in the River Pang overtopping and flooding 25 houses, the village hall and a listed Norman church for several days.

Following the 2007 flood the residents of Bucklebury formed a flood committee and worked with the Environment Agency, West Berkshire Council and the Thames Regional Flood Defence Committee to build a flood defence scheme which comprised flood embankments, a dry ford and a bypass channel to divert flood water around the village.

In addition, a further embankment between Bucklebury and Stanford Dingley was constructed to ensure that the diverted waters do not impact Stanford Dingley downstream.

The residents of Bucklebury raised £65,000 towards the defences, while West Berkshire Council contributed £45,000.

The remaining funds were provided by the Thames Regional Flood Defence Committee.

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