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The Environment Agency has now finished building the Newbury flood alleviation scheme, which began in October 2012. The work was delayed by high groundwater levels and high flows in the River Kennet during the winter of 2012 to 2013. The construction phase was completed in November 2013.
Newbury has been vulnerable to river flooding. Its canal and river banks and water levels are as much as 2.5 metres higher than the surrounding floodplain. There were floods in 1947, 1960, 2000 and 2003.
Newbury has also experienced flooding from surface water and groundwater, most recently in 2007 and during the winter of 2013 to 2014. There is a separate investigation into these sources of flooding and what actions can be taken in the future.
The Newbury flood alleviation scheme was built by the Environment Agency and made up of flood defence work at 5 locations throughout Newbury town centre. It has been funded through Grant in Aid and third-party contributions from West Berkshire Council, Newbury Town Council and the Canal & Rivers Trust, local businesses and residents.
It was one of the first schemes to be delivered under the government’s flood and coastal resilience partnership funding policy, which was introduced in May 2011.
The Newbury flood alleviation scheme has been built to reduce the risk of river flooding to the town to a 1-in-100 (1%) chance of flooding in any 1 year.
By investing £2 million in building the scheme, the Environment Agency estimates that it will avoid damages of £33.7 million over the lifetime of the flood defence.
The scheme benefits:
- more than 380 residential and almost 70 commercial properties
- the A339 and A4 (London Road)
- 5 listed buildings and 2 scheduled monuments
- 2 nursery schools
- 2 residential homes for the elderly.
Latest update: September 2015
The official opening of the scheme took place on 7 February 2014 by Richard Benyon, MP for Newbury.
The scheme was tested by extremely high flows in the River Kennet in January and February 2014 and was seen to perform well in protecting the town from fluvial flooding.
Following the 2013/2014 winter floods, which saw the Newbury flood alleviation scheme come into full operation, a few areas were identified as needing some additional work:
- Replacing 3 surface water flap valves and two non-return valves, which discharged into the River Kennet from Swan Court
- Re-aligning the surface water run-off from Cygnet Court by raising the kerbs and installing some new drainage channels
- Placing a small section of bund in Northcroft Park to retain surface water flows behind the flood defence
- Re-instate the Northcroft ditch to take the overflow from the newly constructed wetland area
- Construct a trash screen and headwall at the downstream end of the Northcroft ditch
- Post-scheme modelling to show the benefits of the scheme.
All of these extra works should be completed, weather permitting, by the end of September 2015.
You can see photos of the Newbury scheme on Flickr.
The flood defence work
The Environment Agency’s scheme involved the following work:
Work next to Russell Road has raised the towpath to protect housing next to the river. Access has also been improved to the fishing platforms.
The Environment Agency built a new earth embankment in Northcroft Park. They have sown grass seed on the embankment and re-instated the surrounding areas. They will need to keep the embankment area fenced off for a few months to allow the grass to establish.
Once weather conditions allow, they will carry out further planting around the new wetland area. West Berkshire Council’s parks department will take on the long-term maintenance of the works in the park.
The Environment Agency has raised the ground around the mature London Plane tree (next to the Lock, Stock and Barrel pub).
The wall is now up to its full height and a new handrail has been installed.
Work to raise a section of the road in Northcroft Lane has been carried out by West Berkshire Council’s highways department.
West Berkshire Council, working on behalf of the Environment Agency, installed new flood kerbs and raised the footpath at the park.
The towpath works are finished and the towpath is open.
For more information, email: newburyFAS@environment-agency.gov.uk.