Alconbury homeowners given extra flood protection

A �400,000 flood protection scheme unveiled last week could end the misery of residents of Alconbury Weston and Alconbury living in fear of inundations.

Seventy-five homes in the two villages have been fitted with air brick covers, flood gates, flood boards, door guards and other measures as part of the scheme aimed at better protecting households against flooding.

Homes at both sites have been frequent victims of flooding from Alconbury Brook.

In March 2007, roads were closed and several cars were abandoned after the river burst its banks, but that same year Alconbury failed to make the cut for a national pot of money for flood defences.

However last year Huntingdonshire District Council was awarded �228,000 from Defra for flood protection. The rest of the money was provided by the Environment Agency.

Proposals for a community-wide scheme, which would see the brook waters bypassed out of the village, were shelved and instead contractors J Breheny worked on measures for individual homes.

Homeowners Vic Driver, 69 and wife June, say the measures which also include back flow vales to drains and waste pipes and waterproofing of brickwork, has brought them peace of mind.

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Twice a year the couple receive flood alerts and have to move their possessions, including photos away from the front of the house.

Mrs Driver said: “The last big flood here was in 1998. Then the water was almost level with the windowsill, about a metre high. It must have been quite devastating.

“We have only lived here for six and a half years. We do get the road in front of the house flooded, where we cannot get the car out.

“It has been once quite high - inside the pillars of our drive. The water does come up very quickly and mostly it is early in the morning. It is quite scary. If anything happens it is a bit stressful.

“It [the measures] takes a lot of pressure off. At least we know the house is safe. We are also hoping it will make a difference with out insurance premium.”

Steve Wheatley, chairman of the Regional Flood and Coastal Committee, was on the panel who drew up the plans.

He said: “The committee was very keen to support this project to reduce the risk from flooding through the installation of flood resistance measures for individual houses.

“Having looked at the options for reducing flood risk, a community-wide flood defence scheme would not have been economically or practically viable, so this is an excellent alternative.

“We were able to supplement the grant successfully obtained by the council, by using the local levy which is raised from local authorities.”

District councillor Jonathan Gray, executive councillor for environment, said: “These residents are in a high risk flood area and we hope that this work will help to provide protection and some peace of mind for those whose homes are most at risk.

“We have worked closely with householders and agencies with the end result being today’s successful delivery of the scheme. We are particularly grateful for the residents’ co-operation while we have been working on this project.”