The floods in 2013/14 highlighted the extent of the risk from flooding residents and businesses in Runnymede and Weybridge and neighbouring areas face each year, and building the River Thames Flood Alleviation Scheme is the single biggest measure to help address issues of flooding in the constituency. Getting this built is an absolute priority for me, and I have been working with DEFRA and HM Treasury, as well as the Environment Agency, Surrey County Council, our local borough councils and local resident groups to help drive this forwards.
I was delighted that on 10 June 2021 the outline business case for the Scheme was approved by Government, unlocking the first £60M of the scheme’s funding so that detailed design and planning work can begin. For further details on the announcement, please see here. This is a huge milestone for the project, and I am grateful for all of the work, often unseen, that has progressed the Scheme to this stage. It is vital now that we maintain this momentum, and I will be working with all stakeholders to ensure all efforts are made to deliver the Scheme and the protection it provides as soon as possible.
What is the River Thames Scheme?
The River Thames at Runnymede and Weybridge flows through the largest area of undefended, developed floodplain in England. The area has suffered serious floods, most recently in 2014, and each year constituents face the threat and anxiety of rising river levels and the risk of further flooding. With climate change, the risk of flooding is only going to grow.
The River Thames Flood Alleviation Scheme is designed to reduce these risks by improving the flow of water downstream. The scheme will involve the construction of a new river channel which will be built in 2 sections at Spelthorne and Runnymede. The scheme will also include capacity improvements to Desborough Cut. The scheme will also enhance the natural environment around the river and boost the local economy.
Further information, including a map of the proposed works, is available on the Government website here.
Consultation and Next Stages
The RTS team have begun the first of two parts of the necessary consultation required to get the scheme over the line – the initial non-statutory consultation has recently taken place. In addition to encouraging residents to take part I also submitted a response, which you can view here.
The RTS team have informed me that they intend to formally submit the planning applications in Autumn 2024 having carried out the necessary consultations. I am working with all local stakeholders – SCC, the EA and Runnymede and Elmbridge borough councils, as well as the Government – to ensure that the timetable is kept to and the Scheme is delivered as soon as possible.
While a major national infrastructure project on one of the largest undefended floodplains in the country will naturally take some time, and all local stakeholders must be given their chance to have their say, I know the fear and anxiety that living with the threat of flooding can bring, and will continue to push for getting on with and delivering the scheme as soon as possible.