Village waits for flood protection

HOMES near the brook in Alconbury and Alconbury Weston will continue to be at risk of flooding – because not enough people are affected. A scheme to protect the villages failed to make the cut for money from a national pot of flood defence money for the c

HOMES near the brook in Alconbury and Alconbury Weston will continue to be at risk of flooding - because not enough people are affected.

A scheme to protect the villages failed to make the cut for money from a national pot of flood defence money for the coming year, although cash to finish the scheme in St Ives and the Hemingfords was included.

Other schemes were judged to give more protection for the available money, explained the Environment Agency's area flood risk manager, Nigel Woonton.

The agency is close to agreement with planners on a scheme that would protect both riverside homes and the picturesque setting of the centre of the village, but it will have to wait at least another year for cash to implement it.


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The £5million-plus St Ives and Hemingfords scheme is almost complete, and the additional funding will enable the agency to install flood gates in The Waits, near the Norris Museum in St Ives.

The riverside garden will be allowed to flood, but the new gates - to be activated manually when river levels are expected to rise - will protect homes and businesses in the town centre.

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The surplus water will be accommodated downstream, following dredging under the arches of the historic old bridge and in the channel downstream of it, Mr Woonton said.

Total funding next year for the agency's central area from the national pot is £19million - £6.4million less than for 2006/07.

Another scheme to lose out is aimed at protecting Godmanchester, possibly with walls or banks, but there is not enough cash even to finish the evaluation, Mr Woonton said.

The agency is also looking at flood risk in St Neots, including protecting homes in The Paddock, near the river bridge car park. Analysis, due at the end of next month, will identify whether other work is also needed in the town. Smaller schemes can be funded by levies on county and unitary authorities - a total of £1.2million for the Great Ouse valley in 2007/08.

Robert Price, chairman of the Anglian (Central) regional flood defence committee, said: We have been very fortunate in the last two years to have received large budget increases, which have allowed us to make real progress in reducing flood risk in the Great Ouse catchment.

"Now the time has come for schemes elsewhere in the country to have a greater share of the national grant.

"Although we won't be able to do all that we would have liked in 2007/08, we still have a large and important programme of work to tackle in the year ahead.

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