Policy paper

River Medway Flood Storage Areas (FSAs) project

Updated 4 October 2016

Introduction

The River Medway Flood Storage Areas (FSAs) project is being delivered by the Environment Agency in partnership with Kent County Council (KCC), Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council (TMBC) and Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) to develop options to reduce the risk of flooding to communities.

Over 3,000 homes and businesses in Tonbridge, Hildenborough, Yalding and Collier Street are at risk of flooding from the River Medway, the River Beult, and the River Teise. 2,060 of these properties are at significant risk of flooding. Communities in these areas have been affected by flooding in 1960, 1963, 1968, 1974, 1979, 2000/01 and winter 2013/14.

Flood risk from the River Medway and its tributaries.
Flood risk from the River Medway and its tributaries.

During the winter 2013/14 floods, over 900 homes and businesses in Tonbridge, Maidstone, Yalding, East Peckham and other smaller communities were flooded from the River Medway and its tributaries. This flood was the largest ever measured in many parts of the catchment of the River Medway.

Aerial view of Leigh Flood Storage Area Christmas 2013.
Aerial view of Leigh Flood Storage Area Christmas 2013.

Background

The Leigh Flood Storage Area (FSA) was built following the flood in 1968 to reduce the risk of flooding to 1,200 homes and businesses in Tonbridge. Whilst the Leigh FSA helps to reduce the flows downstream, many communities are at risk of flooding as they do not have flood defences of their own.

The Environment Agency operated the Leigh FSA during the winter 2013/14 floods to substantially reduce the flows in the River Medway and protect 938 homes. However, the Christmas 2013 flood was bigger than the Leigh FSA was designed to manage and properties flooded.

In 2010, the revised Middle Medway Strategy set out options to manage flood risk from the River Medway, the River Beult, and the River Teise. These options include enlarging the capacity of the Leigh Flood Storage Area from 5.5 million metres cubed to 8.8 million metres cubed which would improve the standard of protection to homes and businesses in Tonbridge. The Strategy also recommended a second scheme on the River Beult which will reduce the risk of flooding to homes and businesses in Yalding and the surrounding communities.

The River Medway Flood Storage Areas (FSAs) project will develop a scheme to refine these options.

Managing flood risk in the future

Although the Middle Medway Strategy recommended increasing the flood storage at Leigh FSA and further flood storage on the River Beult, the Environment Agency together with its partners is considering a wide range of options to ensure they identify the best solution for these areas. The initial assessment is now complete. It considered the costs and benefits of:

  • increasing the capacity of the Leigh FSA
  • flood storage in two locations on the River Teise
  • flood storage on the River Beult
  • walls around Yalding
  • increasing the channel capacity by dredging the River Medway between Yalding and Maidstone

July’s newsletter presents the findings of the initial assessment. Work to increase the capacity of the Leigh Flood Storage Area will proceed. This scheme will include new defences around Hildenborough. The Environment Agency will also lead work with the communities around Yalding, Collier Street and Laddingford on community and property resilience options for these areas.

The Environment Agency and its partners will explain the initial assessment process and the next steps at a series of drop in sessions:

  • Collier Street on 6 to 8 October at the church between 2pm and 8pm on weekdays, and 10am and 4pm on Saturday
  • Yalding on 13 to 15 October at the church between 2pm and 8pm on weekdays and 10am and 4pm on Saturday
  • Tonbridge on 20 to 22 October at the Angel Centre between 2pm and 8pm on weekdays and 10am and 4pm on Saturday. Note the start time on Friday will be slightly later at 3pm.

Timescales

Having completed the initial assessment, the Environment Agency and its partners are now working on the outline business case which will lead to the full business case being submitted to Defra in 2018. Once approved, the project will then move to the detailed design phase in 2018-2019. Currently, the indicative funding programme shows construction between 2019 and 2022.

Find out more

If you want any more information on the project or have any questions, please call Neil Gunn at the Environment Agency on 03708 506 506 or email MedwayFSA@environment-agency.gov.uk.