Kent Leigh Barrier flood defence work brought forward

Flooded road in Hildenborough It is thought more than 150 homes flooded in Hildenborough over Christmas

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Work to look at improving a Kent flood defence has been brought forward after it was previously programmed for 2035.

Tonbridge council said a £100,000 study would look at how to raise the storage capacity of the Leigh Barrier, which protects Tonbridge and other areas.

More than 150 homes in Hildenborough village were flooded by discharge from the barrier over Christmas.

The Environment Agency later said the barrier had a finite capacity and work to improve it could take decades.

Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council said the Leigh Barrier feasibility study was one of three schemes to move forward after the authority received an extra £300,000 from the Environment Agency.

'Bund to protect village'

The decision was in response to flooding in the borough over Christmas and New Year, council leader Nicolas Heslop said.

He said he and council chief executive Julie Beilby wrote to five government ministers and the chairman of the Environment Agency last month, and the extra funding had now been confirmed.

The borough needed better protection against future flood risks and the funding was "very welcome", he added.

The other two schemes to move forward are the construction of a new bund to reduce flood risk in Hildenborough at a cost of £200,000 and work on another flood defence in Avebury Avenue, Tonbridge.

Leigh Barrier The Environment Agency said in February that the Leigh Barrier had a "finite capacity" and work to improve it was not expected until 2035

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