As part of the River Thames Scheme, the environment agency has published their Environmental impact assessment of June 2017.
The River Thames scheme is designed to reduce the risk of flooding to homes, businesses and critical infrastructure – for instance roads, power supplies and the sewerage network. With over 15,000 homes and businesses built along the Thames floodplain between Datchet and Teddington, said area has become the largest area of undefended – yet highly developed – floodplain in England.
Solutions included in the scheme, according to the Government, consist of:
- Construction of 17 kilometres of new flood channel built in 3 sections
- Capacity improvements to the weirs at Sunbury, Molesey and Teddington
- Community resilience measures
- Major incident planning
- Habitat creation
With such solutions in mind, the Environmental Impact Assessment was created to assess the long-term impacts of the scheme. Ways to avoid or minimise certain negative impacts of the scheme were also explored, as well as general steps toward improving the local environment. The assessment is documented in an Environmental Statement, which shall later be submitted with a planning application to inform any planning decisions beneath the scheme. This means that any solutions to the identified impacts can be implemented throughout the construction phase of the project.
An Environmental Scoping Report is required within the first stages of creating an Environmental Statement. The report includes a summary of the existing quality of environment, and considers the significance of the effects of the scheme. For instance, landscape, cultural heritage, noise, ecology, water environment and individuals are all included in such considerations. The report is expected to be presented to external consultees for comment in the upcoming summer.
Local authorities will be required to provide a Scoping Opinion, in response to the Scoping Report, under the Town and County Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations. They once again consider likely significant impacts that could result from the scheme, which should in turn set the scope of the Environmental Impact Assessment. This system fails to invite any public opinion at this stage; however public consultation shall be carried out during the planning application process in 2018.
The River Thames floodplain is not the only vulnerable land across England and Wales. Increasing urbanisation and intensive agriculture upon these floodplains has now deemed nine tenths of England’s floodplains unfit for purpose, leading to increased frequency and severity of flooding. If you would like any information and advice on obtaining a Flood Risk Assessment or Sustainable Drainage Strategy for your property, please do not hesitate to contact us here at Unda.