On Friday I met up with local Councillors for Molesey, Steve Bax and Peter Szanto. Amongst other things, we talked about flood defences in Esher and Walton. Flooding has been fresh in our minds recently, with the terrible floods in Cumbria and across the North across Christmas, which left thousands of homes and businesses damaged.
The government has made significant investment in flood defences, and in November, I met with Julia Simpson, the West Thames Area Manager for the Environment Agency, to discuss the major long-term regional project to prevent local flooding, the River Thames Scheme, which is underway. Due for completion in 2024, this scheme will add river channels upstream to help control river flow during floods, and increase the capacity of the weirs at Sunbury and Molesey, to help manage water levels during a flood.
In the meantime, the Environment Agency has offered surveys to those homes most as risk of flooding, to assess whether things like door barriers or air brick covers could make them more resistant to flooding. To date, 407 homes in Esher & Walton constituency have been identified as eligible for these property-level defences, with 69 homes having the products installed to date. From April, the new Flood Re scheme, a joint initiative between the insurance industry and the government, will be introduced to ensure households in flood risk areas continue to access affordable insurance cover. As a backbench MP, I pressed hard to help secure that scheme.
Recent events in the North of the country are a timely reminder that we can’t prevent unpredictable or severe weather. But, having discussed the local plans with all the relevant agencies, I am confident that Elmbridge is far better placed to cope with such extreme conditions.