BIG plans to protect the people of
Datchet from a repeat of the flooding that engulfed their High Street last
year were displayed in the Village Hall on Tuesday [15/9/2015]
The public exhibition featured diagrams
and maps detailing the Environment Agency’s (EA) River Thames Scheme -– a
17km long flood channel, designed to protect Datchet and Wraysbury which
both suffered appallingly last year.
The scheme would extend as far as
Teddington, protecting Egham, Staines and Shepperton further down river. In
February last year, more than 930 properties on this stretch of the river
Among the visitors to the exhibition
was Datchet parish councillor Ewan Larcombe, a highly vocal critic of the EA
who makes no secret of his cynicism about the new scheme. He believes it
would divert water which could end up flooding areas of London.
He is also of the belief, shared among
some villagers in Datchet and Wraysbury, that the Jubilee River, the 11.6km
long channel built at the turn of the century to safeguard Windsor and Eton,
was partly responsible for the flooding that hit them so devastatingly last
Cllr Larcombe said: “The EA ought to be
tackling the 100 blocked flood arches and dredging the river, which they
refuse to do. “The problem is that it only has legal responsibility to
maintain the navigation on the river. The law needs to be changed so that it
has to be take responsibility for the river’s upkeep.”
David Murphy, programme director for
the EA, insisted the proposed new scheme would play a vital role in the
fight against flooding.
He said: “There are 15,000 homes and
businesses at risk between Datchet and Teddington. This is about reducing
the risk to them, not transferring it to another area.”
Mr Murphy added London would not be put
at risk by the proposed new scheme because its own flood defences were
robust enough to ensure this could not happen.
Datchet residents Adrian and Lesley
Giddins were among the villagers who visited the exhibition. They share the
belief that the Jubilee River contributed to the village’s problems last
Mr Giddins said: “We welcome another
channel that might provide protection so we don’t get more water dumped on
The scheme will cost around £300m with
around £250m of funding already accounted for.
In January 2015, the seven local
councils backing the scheme, including the Royal Borough, agreed to commit
funding for the development of the scheme up to the point of construction.
The new channel would be created in
three locations to alleviate the pressure on the River Thames and would also
involve improving weirs further down river to cope with extra water.
The target date for work to start is