The public consultation on plans for the River Thames Scheme is now live. This includes details, maps and timelines for the RTS project and provides the opportunity for residents have their say, ahead of plans being submitted for official approval as part the national planning process. The consultation runs from 22 January until 4 March.
Following the recent flooding I know many residents are keen to share their views and ensure that the scheme reflects local needs, reduces flood risk and can be delivered as swiftly as possible. You can review the plans and share your views here: www.riverthamesscheme.org.uk
As your MP, reducing flooding risk and getting the River Thames Scheme built is one of my top priorities. I have worked closely with the Environment Agency and Surrey County Council throughout the project to date, and will continue to press for works to begin as swiftly as possible. There are key issues that need to be addressed before physical work can begin, including planning, land ownership and environmental impact. I am working to support each of these, but your views are essential to the successful delivery of the Scheme, so please do send them through and respond to the scheme.
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 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 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 was a huge milestone for the project, and I am grateful for all of the work, often unseen, that progressed the Scheme to this stage.
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.
The next stages are for the project to obtain a Development Consent Order - planning permission for very large, nationally significant infrastructure projects. This includes the production of detailed plans and the current public consultation. It is essential a Scheme of this size takes into account local needs and delivers the maximum benefits.
Consultation and Next Stages
Prior to the current public consultation, the RTS team conducted an initial non-statutory consultation. In addition to encouraging residents to take part I also submitted a response, which you can view here. I will also be submitting a response to the current consultation.
Once the consultation has closed, the project team will review feedback received and use this to produce a consultation report which will summarise the findings. This report will also include information on how they have considered feedback and how this has informed any changes to the proposals or refinements of the scheme.
The report will be submitted as part of the Development Consent Order application to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs via the Planning Inspectorate ('PINS') and will be available to the public following submission of the application.
I will continue to with all local stakeholders, as well as the Government – to ensure that the timetable is kept to and the Scheme is delivered as soon as possible.