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Elmbridge, Richmond and Kingston councils unite to push the Government for £256m flood defence scheme
Team work: John O’Reilly (Elmbridge), Robert Watts (Spelthorne), David Burbage (Windsor & Maidenhead), David Hodge (Surrey), Pat Roberts (Runnymede), Kevin Davis (Kingston) and Tony Arbour (Richmond)
A business case for £256m of river defences will be developed by seven councils whose residents and businesses were affected by flooding earlier this year.
Elmbridge Council has teamed up with six other authorities to push the Government for the flood defence scheme for the lower River Thames after areas across the borough, including Cobham, Thames Ditton and Hurst Park, suffered from flooding in February.
The business case will be put together by local authorities in some of the areas worst hit by the winter flooding, including Kingston, Richmond and Windsor and Maidenhead.
Neighbouring boroughs Spelthorne and Runnymede and Surrey County Council will also be involved with the case, which was agreed at a meeting on Friday, June 13.
The scheme would protect riverside homes and businesses by building a flood channel and make improvements to three weirs.
David Hodge, leader of Surrey County Council, said: "I called this meeting because we all want to protect our residents and local economy from flooding, so we hope that working together will get us Government approval for this crucial scheme."
Earlier this year, Prime Minister David Cameron said the flood alleviation scheme was expensive, but it was being looked at "very carefully."
Speaking to BBC Surrey in April, Mr Cameron said: "It's an expensive scheme but what I've done is I've put distinct ministers in charge of co-ordinating the response in different parts of the country.
"Philip Hammond who is a local MP is responsible for this area of the country [and is] talking to all the local organisations and local councils and trying then to put together for the government the best recommendation of the things that we need to fund for the future."
Mr Hammond, MP for Runnymede and Weybridge said he was “absolutely clear” that the scheme should be progressed “as rapidly as possible” because the lower Thames has the largest amount of properties at risk from river flooding in the UK.
He said: “I have called publicly for the Environment Agency and local authorities to work together with renewed urgency to secure the necessary financing and approvals so that this vital flood protection scheme can be completed as quickly as is technically possible.
“I do believe that the contribution of central Government towards the scheme will need to be increased. However, the principle of co-funding is firmly established and I believe it is important that local commitment to the scheme is demonstrated.
“I hope that it will be possible to establish an agreed funding strategy with an increased central Government contribution in the near future so that those affected by flooding in the area can plan for the future around the scheme being built within a defined timescale.”
The team of councils will hand the business case to the Government later this year.
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