'Not realistic' to contribute to £256m River Thames Scheme

'Not realistic' to contribute to £256m River Thames Scheme

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Luke Matthews

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'Not realistic' to contribute to £256m River Thames Scheme
Cllr Simon Dudley
A senior councillor has said it is 'not realistic' for the Royal Borough to be expected to contribute to the potential £256million River Thames Scheme.

Cllr Simon Dudley (Con, Maidenhead Riverside) has called on central government and the Environment Agency (EA) to fund the project.

The scheme, put forward by the EA, is similar to the Jubilee River and would reduce the risk of flooding to more than 20,000 properties in communities including Datchet and Wraysbury.

Cllr Dudley, the council's deputy leader, said: "Its not realistic to ask a local authority the size of Windsor and Maidenhead to be contributing to such a significant investment.

"The EA say there should be match funding from local authorities. It's not practical.

"My personal view is that it's a matter of national priority.

"For me, the number one priority of central government is to protect its citizens.

"I would hope they will go back and look at funding and where its going and think 'this needs to be done'.

"It's not going to advance things to just stare at the local authority and ask them to contribute."

He added that the project is currently 'stuck in the sand' until the issue of funding is solved.

What is the River Thames Scheme?

The River Thames Scheme is a proposal similar to the Jubilee River which would reduce the risk of flooding to more than 20,000 properties in communities including Datchet and Wraysbury.

The Thames between Datchet and Teddington - the area the scheme would cover - has the largest area of undefended floodplain in England according to the Environment Agency (EA).

What would it involve?

Large scale engineering work would take place to construct a flood channel between 30 and 60 metres wide and 17km long, and to make improvements to three of the Thames weirs. There would also be provisions of local flood protection for up 1,500 individual properties and improved flood incident response plans.

Who is involved?

A programme board overseeing the development of the scheme includes representatives from the EA, Defra, the Royal Borough and other local authorities including Surrey County Council and Runnymede Borough Council.

When will it happen?

Necessary approvals are being sought to begin outline designs, with the hope the process will start in the Spring.

It could take three or four years to complete. While timings remain uncertain, the aim is to start the capacity improvements to the weirs within three years and the construction of the channel within six. This could then take five or six years to build.

Who will fund it?

As it stands there is a 'significant shortfall', according to the EA, for delivering the £250million scheme. It estimates it can secure £136million from the Government if it can find the local support and remaining funding.

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