09:00AM, Friday 27 November 2020
Works on the Jubilee River flood relief channel will not be complete before March 2021 – bringing fears of greater flood risk for houses on the riverside.
The Jubilee River diverts water from the Thames upstream of Maidenhead. It reduces flood risk to approximately 3,200 homes in Cookham, Maidenhead, Windsor and Eton.
At the beginning of November, work was set to begin on the erosion of Black Potts Weir in Windsor. A routine dive found erosion to the downstream area of the weir.
The work was originally planned to continue throughout December but now will run until March.
Until the update is complete, the channel can only operate at ‘reduced capacity’, in the words of the Environment Agency (EA).
“It’s always disappointing when works are pushed back, but on the other hand, we want to make sure these works are done properly,” said councillor Chris Targowski (Con, Riverside).
“The Environment Agency are experts and I’m sure they have looked at this in the main. I have faith in them to do what they need to do to protect my residents.”
In an update on the works, the EA wrote: “The River Thames needs long and continuous days of rain to flood, providing us with ample time to prepare for any flooding.
“We have implemented temporary changes to how we operate the Thames upstream and downstream of the Jubilee River to ensure the Thames stays at a constant level.”
However, councillor Ewan Larcombe of the National Flood Prevention Party (Datchet, Horton and Wraysbury) is not convinced by this.
“I wonder about the competence of the EA,” he said. “This is yet another structural failure – the Jubilee River has been dogged by them.
“The erosion should never have happened, it’s substandard in design and construction. It has never been able to carry its design capacity.
“It is unusable at the moment, and now Maidenhead is back to the place it was in 2002.”
An Environment Agency Spokesperson said: “Since October we have carried out more on site surveys to Black Potts weir and it has become clearer what we need to do to complete the permanent repairs.
“The second phase of the works, to be completed in the New Year, will allow us to safeguard repairs using heavy rock armour and ensure that the weir will continue to operate long into the future.
“We still intend to complete the first phase of the repairs, giving us operational capability of the channel, by Christmas as initially intended.
“Decisions over how much flow we pass down the channel will take into account flood risk to people and property and also the safety of the weir and the railway viaduct.
“Our approach to managing this will be risk-based depending on weather and river conditions, so there is no definitive figure on the capacity of the channel before completion of the repairs.”
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