By Sue Chambers, Beasley’s Ait
Editors note: It has all gone quiet in Sunbury. The weather has been good and the grass is green again. The Sunbury Flood Volunteers have done lots of tidying up. So what now? This letter was received from a local resident. With the issues in mind, Sunbury Matters invited Spelthorne MP Kwasi Kwarteng to come to Sunbury to hear concerns from local residents. If you have been affected and are worried then make a note in your diary. June 6th 4pm at St Mary’s Church Hall.
Now the floods have gone and the clean-up continues there are two questions that need to be answered.
1. Why did Sunbury and Shepperton not meet the criteria for a “Severe Flood Warning”?
2. What will be the likely effect on the residents of Sunbury and Shepperton if the Environment Agency Flood Alleviation Scheme goes ahead?
1. Flood Warnings
We received our flood warnings on 8th January and 7th February, both after our gardens and roads were already flooded. The Environment Agency’s definition of a flood warning is: “Flooding is expected. Immediate action required.” And they claim it will be issued “Half an hour to one day in advance of flooding.” That worked well didn’t it!
Despite the need for many homes to be evacuated and waist high water in many gardens our flood was not considered to be severe. I could not get an answer from The Environment Agency as to why we were not classified as “severe”. They said the decision was made in cooperation with their strategic partners but could or would not tell me who these partners were. As nobody actually visited our properties to assess the depth of water how and by whom were those decisions made?
Was the low level flood classification the reason why we received little official help compared to the communities above Shepperton Lock? All the riverside roads were impassable, (the reason given by Elmbridge for not delivering sandbags) and vulnerable people were not identified, thereby putting their lives at risk.
We need to get this sorted in case we flood again.
2. Flood Alleviation Scheme
A petition has been set up by the residents of Wraysbury and Datchet to reinstate the Environment Agency Flood Alleviation Scheme that proposes to create large-scale new flood diversion channels upstream, bypassing Wraysbury and Datchet and coming out at Desborough Island above Shepperton and Sunbury. These flood diversion channels will carry extra water faster and discharging the increased peak volume on our doorstep. Lack of Government funding killed off the project but now it has been resurrected with the full support of the Environment Agency.
The Jubilee River is blamed by the residents of Wraysbury, Datchet and Staines upon Thames for the ferocity of the floodwater in both 2003 and 2013/14 and one can understand why they would like to send their floodwater further down the Thames but if it is diverted to Shepperton it will be catastrophic for us.
There is a General Election looming and would allowing the Flood Alleviation Scheme be considered a vote winner? If we do nothing it could happen. We need to act now.