The Cabfas committee has been chasing the Environment Agency for months, hoping to get a clear picture of their plans for the Caversham and Reading flood defence scheme. The EA has provided limited information, but what we do know has lead us to one conclusion: we need to oppose the scheme and call for a better approach.
We’re all going to need to work together, to raise awareness of the scheme, the threat to trees, meadows and property, and to put pressure on politicians to stop the EA’s heavy engineering plans.
Here’s what we know:
- The EA is planning a major engineering project to alleviate a 1-in-200-year flood risk. They have not provided any justification for the scale of the project.
- The plan will likely result in the loss of hundreds of trees and bushes, particularly along the north edge of Christchurch Meadows, the area surrounding the playground up to George Street and the area between Hills Meadow car park and the riverbank, across to Heron Island and Mill Green, as well as all the trees along the south bank path.
- The scheme includes a 25m wide channel being cut through the area where the playground is, under George Street and through the car park and surrounding area back to the river.
- The scheme includes high walls along the south bank and wide earth bunds on the northern edge of Christchurch Meadows.
- Building the channel will cause significant traffic disruption and will likely require an extended closure of Reading Bridge and George Street (for at least two weeks).
- Including the loss of trees, increased traffic congestion, loss of habitat and a huge use of concrete the scheme is likely to cause serious ecological damage to the area and contribute to CO2 emissions.
- The scheme is likely to increase the risk of flooding for a large number of residents, including Heron Island and Sonning.