River Thames flood defence plan a 'threat to environment'

Sonning Bridge flooding Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The River Thames near Sonning bridge flooded in 2013

Planned flood defences along the River Thames will "destroy" a play area and threaten trees and hedges, campaigners have said.

A series of flood walls, embankments and temporary flood barriers have been proposed to reduce the risk of flooding in Reading and Caversham.

More than 400 people have signed a petition opposing the plans.

The Environment Agency (EA) said the proposals would help protect hundreds of homes in 12 areas in north Reading.

The petition was handed to Reading Borough Council on Tuesday by campaigner Paul Goddard.

It states "there has been no reported property damage attributed to the River Thames flooding but the EA [is] proposing measures that will drastically affect the environment".

'Prevent disruption'

Mr Goddard told the Local Democracy Reporting Service the plans would "destroy the Sandy Park", a play area in Christchurch Meadows, and be a "significant safety hazard" to children playing in the area.

He also said hedges and trees were under threat from 5km flood walls.

Community groups, residents and businesses in Caversham set up the Campaign for a Better Flood Alleviation Scheme (CABFAS) group in January, calling for proposals with more detail and less environmental impact.

An EA spokesman said: "The proposals would reduce the impact of flooding to hundreds of properties as well as preventing disruption to local roads and infrastructure."

A consultation in July 2018 found 55% of respondents did not want any of the flood alleviation schemes to be pursued.

Flooding affected the north of Reading and Lower Caversham most recently in 2012 and 2014.

In 2003, many homes were surrounded by floodwater and a number of roads were closed to vehicles for up to five days.

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