Although the River Thames provides a picturesque and historic setting for our constituency, it has also caused much trepidation and suffering for local residents in recent years through serious incidents of flooding.
The areas of Staines, Chertsey and Egham Hythe were hit particularly badly throughout the winter of 2013-14, with severe floods affecting thousands of local residents. As a local MP and the Prime Minister’s Flood Envoy for the Thames Valley, I am committed to working with local authorities, the Environment Agency and many others to ensure every effort is made to prevent such destruction from happening again.
The River Thames Scheme is a major programme of flood defences, projects and investment to reduce flood risk in the communities near Heathrow, an area where over 15,000 homes and businesses are at risk of flooding. The scheme consists of large scale engineering work to construct a new flood channel between 30 to 60 metres wide and 17 kilometres long, built in 3 sections; improvements to 3 of the existing weirs on the River Thames; and the installation of property level protection.
I have worked tirelessly behind the scenes with my Cabinet colleagues, together with the work of local campaigners, to secure an additional £60 million of new funding for the Scheme, with plans for further investment underway. This means that the project will finally go ahead, delivering a permanent defence against the scourge of river flooding.
I will continue to work with members of both local and central government to safeguard funding for the Scheme, ensuring that our local area has the structural defences it needs to create safe and sustainable communities along the river.
I think it is also important to mention that, although devastating, the local reaction to the floods demonstrated the strength of our local community to work together in the face of such destruction. The sophisticated network of communication between multiple local authorities and local flood volunteers helped to ensure that those affected could alert other residents to the severity of the situation, allowing more time for preparation and prevention of damage, as well as evacuation of affected areas. Thanks to such efforts, local emergency services were given invaluable support in their work to protect as many people and properties as possible.