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major new flood defence systems incoming on the back of summer floods in the south east.

Record investment in flood defences for South East

With summer floods blighting London, the Government has announced a record £176.5 million for flood defences. This will be invested in more than 200 schemes in 2021/22, protecting homes and businesses across the South East region. A further £5.2bn will be invested over the next 6 years boosting a significant number of new schemes to combat flooding and coastal erosion.

The investment will be made as part of the Government's Flood and Coastal Erosion Investment Plan. The plan is designed to help avoid £32bn in economic damage, protect 36,000 properties and reduce the national flooding risk by 11%.

Thames Valley flood scheme

The most eye-catching proposal involves the Thames Valley flood scheme, which involves the whole of the River Thames between London and its source in Gloucestershire.

The scheme is designed to improve climate resilience across the area by complementing and enhancing existing schemes. The investment is designed to reduce flood risk while boosting sustainable growth and improving economic health and general wellbeing for both ruban and rural areas.

Investment was also announced in the Lydd Ranges sea defence scheme at Romney Marsh. This will give better flood protection to nearly 2,000 homes and ensure that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) firing training ranges located in the area remain operational. In addition, many prime areas of agricultural land are currently at risk of flooding.

3.2 km of sea defences are currently under construction involving 34 new timber groynes and 320,000 or shingle to reinforce the existing beaches. The existing 'Green Wall' and an outfall at Denge will also be improved.

Rivers and coastal defences

Further along the South coast, the Eastbourne to Pevensey Bay flood defence scheme is expected to prevent 10,000 business and homes against flood damage. This scheme will also protect key infrastructure including the Hastings to Brighton railway line and the A27.

Currently in the design options phase, this scheme is expected to have a strong focus on carbon efficiencies which will be a critical part of the plan. By embracing new ways of working and cutting edge technologies, the scheme is expected to achieve carbon savings of 50%.

In Essex the River Roding flood alleviation scheme will protect properties and infrastructure around Ilford and Woodford and improve the quality of the river for wildlife. Shonks Mill Bridge will be the site of a flood storage area which will contain diverted flood waters and act as a temporary reservoir.

As well as the long earth embankment and control structure, works will include refurbishing existing flood embankments to improve defences against the projected effects of climate change.

Bolstering defences

Launching the plan, Environment Secretary George Eustice spoke of the recent devastating floods in Germany and Belgium and said the government was standing by communities to ensure better protection by 2027. He said the comprehensive plan would tighten defences and give more business and homeowners access to insurance.

Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, also spoke of the summer floods and the need for greater risk reduction. She said the Environment Agency had delivered the previous plan on time and on budget and were ready to tackle the government's ambitious scheme. While warning against a false sense of security, she said the new schemes should provide reassurance to business and the public.

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