GODMANCHESTER’S £11million flood defences scheme, aimed at protecting 560 low-lying properties in the historic town, has been stalled by lack of money.

The Government cash was earmarked last March but will not become available in time for work on the project in the coming year unless alternative sources of funds can be found.

But, with no expectation of corporate sponsorship of that magnitude and with the same constraints on council funding as on central Government, the Environment Agency is pinning its hopes on the regional flood defence committee (RFDC), when it allocates cash in April.

Dr Geoff Brighty, Brampton-based area manager for the Environment Agency, said: “Although it is unlikely that grant funding will be available for Godmanchester this year, we do want the scheme to progress as soon as possible.

“We have worked hard with the community, the district and town councils and others to come up with a flood alleviation scheme that everyone is happy with and protects the community to a one per cent standard [reducing the risk of flooding to once in 100 years].

“We are particularly grateful for the patience and co-operation of local residents who are willing to have the defence built in their gardens for the greater good of the community.”

He added: “The funding position will be considered at the RFDC meeting in April. We are looking at alternative funding opportunities that would still allow us to start work as soon as possible.”

In the meantime, the EA is hoping local authorities might contribute or that the scheme can be phased over several years to avoid heavy capital expenditure in any single year.

The agency is close to agreeing planning permission for the scheme with Huntingdonshire District Council.