A council is asking for the Government to fully fund a major flood alleviation channel.

The Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead is seeking the return of the planned Berkshire Channel of the River Thames Flood Alleviation Scheme – previously known as Channel One.

That section of the scheme was abandoned several years ago when it was found to be unviable. It was intended to reduce flood risk downstream of Windsor, including Datchet, Horton, Wraysbury and Old Windsor, which were affected by heavy rain in January.

But the Government recently recognised as a ‘project of national significance’, a section of the scheme affecting Surrey, following a consultation which has now closed.

In the Royal Borough’s formal response to the consultation, Cllr Richard Coe, cabinet member for environmental services, requested conversations with the Government and Environment Agency about re-instating the Berkshire Channel.

His submission stated: “It is likely that flooding events will become a more regular occurrence over the coming years, which will have a devastating impact on many areas of our borough with the areas of Datchet, Wraysbury, Old Windsor and Cookham seeing some of the most significant impacts.

“To ensure communities in our borough are better protected from future flooding events, it is our firm belief that the previously proposed Berkshire element of the scheme must be delivered in full.”

Cllr Coe argues that it is unreasonable to expect a small unitary authority to pay for the national flood risk infrastructure.

He went on: “Local authorities simply aren’t funded to deliver multi-million-pound flood alleviation schemes. That aside, this is clearly a scheme of national significance, and we believe that it should therefore be delivered through national funding.

“This is why we are asking for Government to commit to funding the proposals in full – including Channel One – recognising that this is an issue of national importance and as stated in the vision it will enhance the resilience of nationally important infrastructure.”

Cllr Ewan Larcombe, ward councillor for Datchet, Horton and Wraysbury, said: “I fully support the council’s response on the River Thames Scheme. The Berkshire Channel is critical to managing flood risk in my ward, where flooding has been very much a long-term reality and continuing concern for residents and businesses alike.

“The Government has correctly recognised the River Thames Scheme as a project of national significance and it follows that full funding should come from government too, so we can provide certainty for communities and realise the benefits as soon as possible.”

Image: River Thames, Windsor – geograph.org.uk – 4918068.jpg|River Thames, Windsor – geograph.org.uk – 4918068.

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