Some questions about the North Reading and Lower Caversham Flood Alleviation Scheme

If you know nothing or just a little bit about the scheme, the following are some of the questions that it throws up.

We will expand this Q&A over time as we get more detailed information through engagement with the EA at individual and campaign level.

If you have any specific questions about the scheme that are not answered in sufficient detail on the EA’s information page, please email the Environment Agency directly at reading&[email protected].

The more people ask questions about the scheme and its implications for their specific location, the wider environment or the community, the better.

Please consider sharing any answers you get with the campaign by emailing them to [email protected].

Does Caversham really need a flood alleviation scheme (FAS)?

Maybe – but the Environment Agency (EA) does not provide clear and detailed evidence that this scheme is necessary and that other options have been considered.

What does the proposed scheme involve?

  • 4km of flood walls and embankments (some expected to be as high as 2.8m and 19m wide) on the north side of the river
  • Flood walls between Reading Bridge and Caversham Bridge on the south side (to mitigate the effect of the defences on the north side)
  • A 25m wide ‘conveyance channel’ that will cut through the current play area in Christchurch Meadows, under Reading Bridge, and through the car park on Hill’s Meadow

Who and what will be affected?

  • Everyone who lives in the areas alongside the proposed flood defences, or who walks and cycles through and enjoys the park and river environment along the Thames
  • Trees and shrubs along the entire length of the defences – the construction of walls and embankments will lead to extensive tree felling and removal of screening shrubs
  • Wildlife – its movements, nesting sites etc. will be restricted by flood walls
  • Potentially some people or areas up- or downstream, if EA modelling and forecasts do not accurately predict the effect of the FAS

What is the impact of the scheme likely to be?

Depending on where you live and how you use the riverside environment, you may:

  • have protection from river flooding (but not necessarily surface or groundwater flooding) in the event of a 1-in-200-year large or major flood
  • experience disruption during construction
  • have a wall or embankment behind or in front of the property you live in
  • see possible increases in antisocial behaviour
  • have to use flood gates for day-to-day access
  • lose trees and/or hedges near your home and in local green spaces
  • lose some of the playground area (‘Sandy Park’)

Are there other options?

At the first consultation drop-in in July 2018, 55% of respondents chose the option to do ‘No new work, to continue […] maintaining rivers and streams and operating weirs and locks’, but this option has since been dropped, and others appear not to have been considered.

Who will pay for it?

£11m of the estimated £25–30m design and construction cost will come from government and partnership funding. The rest has yet to be found. The proposals don’t clarify who will pay for the ongoing maintenance of the scheme.