Thu, 10 Sept 2015
PLANS for a second shield to prevent hundreds of Thatcham homes from flooding have been given the green light.
Last week West Berkshire councillors unanimously approved a scheme for an earth bund and basin to hold back excess water north of Tull Way.
The basin is the second of four planned in order to prevent a repeat of the devastating floods that hit the town in July 2007. More than 1,100 homes were flooded after three times the monthly rainfall fell in 24 hours. Residents and businesses were forced to leave their properties, with some still homeless up to 18 months after the devastation.
Speaking at a meeting of the council’s western area planning committee last week, the chairman of Thatcham Flood Forum, Iain Dunn, said that the scheme was very important for the town. He added that the new bund, when combined with the pond at Cold Ash, would save about 30 per cent of the homes that were flooded in 2007.
The council’s principal engineer, Stuart Clarke, said: “The scheme is designed to provide a level of protection for a one in 100 year flood event. Thatcham was a one in 250 year event. We are providing the standard which is for a one in 100 year event.
He said the bund, costing £800,000, would be funded by DEFRA via the Environment Agency.
He added that it would take about five months to complete but the work would not start until the end of March 2016 at the earliest.
“This is because the type of material we are moving is quite susceptible to wet weather,” he said.
Speaking on the decision, the chairman of Thatcham Flood Forum’s funding committee, Brian Woodham, said he was absolutely delighted that the scheme had been approved as a large number of homes in the west of Thatcham would be protected.
The first pond, at the bottom of Cold Ash Hill, was completed in August last year. The flood forum is currently raising money in order to unlock more government funding for the last two ponds, to be built above the Dunstan Park and Kennet Lea and Heath estates.
Thatcham town and district councillor Lee Dillon (Lib Dem, Thatcham North), who was flooded in 2007, said: “It’s great news to see another step towards the overall completion of the surface water management plan.
“The flood forum have worked really hard and been able to pull together a group of residents, councillors and agencies to keep the focus on the work. The further away we get from 2007, the further it fades from people’s memories.”