I have received the following update from the Environment Agency:
- In 2015/16 we carried out river maintenance at 15 locations in your constituency. This work took place along 14.5km of rivers including the Loddon, Swallowfield Ditch, Emm Brook and the Kennet. It included removing obstructions, tree and shrub maintenance and carrying out selective weed and vegetation clearance. In 2016 / 17 we are carrying out a similar maintenance programme. The attached map shows the main locations and types of work we’re doing.
Emm Brook and South Wokingham Distributor Road
- We have been engaging with Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) over the design of the South Wokingham Distributor Road (SWDR) since the early planning stages, and we will continue to work with WBC as the plans progress. The aim is that the SWDR reduces downstream flood risk from the Emm Brook, notably in locations which have historically been affected by river flooding. The developer anticipates completing the design for the relief road and residential development this calendar year with a view to start construction of the different elements of the scheme in 2018 and 2019.
Planning consultations and permitting
- Since April 2016 we have commented on 78 planning applications within Wokingham. In line with our remit our responses ensured that the layout of development sites, where there is a risk of flooding from rivers, is appropriate; for example, siting dwellings where there is a low risk. Redevelopment does occur within floodplains and in these situations we provide advice so that floor levels are set above flood levels. In the vast majority of cases the local planning authority will take our advice on any flood risk objections. However if planning permission, for a major application, is given against our advice and the effects of flood risk are significant, we would use a call in process (through the Secretary of State) to reconsider whether planning permission should be granted. We did not call in any applications in 2016 in Wokingham.
Swallowfield Temporary Defence Deployment Plan
- In 2016 the Government funded 32km of additional temporary barriers nationally (bringing our total national stock to 40km) to protect local communities during flooding. We have a draft deployment plan for Swallowfield where our assessments show there is potential to protect the community. We are consulting with partners and the community to finalise the arrangemen
Appraisals for future flood risk improvements
- Our future programme for permanent flood defences includes Swallowfield and Lower Earley. We will appraise whether options such as flood walls and embankments are viable in these locations. River modelling is needed to make these assessments and we will test these options once the modelling is available. We will have the outcomes from the appraisal in autumn 2018.
Local Partnership Meetings
- The Berkshire Flood Partnership is made up of all Berkshire Lead Local Flood Authorities, Thames Water and ourselves. The next meeting is on 7 March 2017. The meeting is chaired by Cllr Jesse Grey of Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.
We also meet with the Loddon Valley Residents Association and Loddon Basin Flood Action Group