07:32AM, Thursday 16 January 2014
The £110m Jubilee River flood protection scheme has been hailed by the Environment Agency (EA) for keeping Maidenhead homes dry - but been blamed by others for adding to a crisis elsewhere.
The agency has said 3,200 homes across the town and in Windsor and Eton were kept safe during the extreme weather conditions that saw the huge man-made jubilee channel running at full capacity since it opened in 2002.
But unhappy villagers in Old Windsor and Wraysbury remain convinced the defence has added to their flooding woes by diverting water from the Maidenhead area and pumping it back into the Thames near their homes.
Windsor MP Adam Afriyie who lives in Old Windsor and whose owner cellar was flooded, wants answers.
He said: "Residents want to understand what role the Jubilee River and its operation had to play in unfolding events. I will be asking questions of the Environment Agency in due course.
Gillie Bolton, who lives on Ham Island in Old Windsor and is its flood warden, is convinced the Jubilee River has diverted water downstream.
She said: "People who have lived here 50 years say they have never seen anything like it.
"They are sure the Jubilee River has exacerbated our problems and this is not something that it going to go away."
EA spokesman Ash Dobson said the channel's weir gates were opened after a month's worth of rain fell in the first week of January and it was operating at full capacity by Wednesday, January 8.
He said yesterday that it is no longer at full capacity, with the flow expected to be further reduced in the coming days.
The Environment Agency has also said claims the Jubilee River could impact on communities further downriver were independently investigated in 2003 and found to have no basis.
Homeowners in Maidenhead were full of praise for the scheme.
Simon Dudley, a Royal Borough councillor for Riverside Ward, has lived by the Thames in Bray for 20 years.
He says the Jubilee River does a 'fantastic job'.
He said: "Pre-Jubilee River, the river (Thames) came up to my garden, towards my house. Now it doesn't get any where near that. The river operates in a far more restricted level of volatility."
Martin McNamee has lived in Lower Cookham Road, Maidenhead, since 1987.
His home was flooded three times before the jubilee was built.
The 71-year-old Maidenhead Civic Society member said: "On two occasions where there has been flooding since, we have not been flooded.
“It’s definitely a success for us."
Paramedics were called to the scene of a medical emergency in Maidenhead on Monday morning (June 27).
A teenager who died after getting into difficulty in the Jubilee River has been described as a ‘gentle giant’ in a tribute from his school.