Flood defences to be made stronger – but more funds are needed

    River Medway

    COMMUNITIES surrounding the Medway River were given a boost last week as the borough council pledged half a million pounds towards a flood protection scheme –part of a £17.1million investment project’

    The joint project between the Environment Agency (EA), Kent County Council and Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council (TMBC), will include improvements to the Leigh Flood Storage Area (FSA) together with a flood protection bund at Hildenborough.

    The EA says the project will reduce the risk of flooding to 1,475 properties and over 50 businesses.

    Despite the financial pledge, the project is still yet to receive the necessary funding to go ahead. The local authorities and the EA are attempting to gather funds from a variety of sources, as they need additional contributions of £5.8million to make up the shortfall in central government spending.

    The business case for the project will be considered by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in 2018. Once approved and fully funded, it is hoped that construction will be completed by 2022.

    Tonbridge Flood Warden, Carl Lewis, welcomed the announcement. He said: “I’m very pleased that TMBC have been able to help fund this project, showing their commitment to help flood resilience in our area. With the improvements to the Leigh FSA and the works at Hildenborough, more people will be spared the misery of a flooded home.”

    He explained that the facility in Leigh would assist all those at risk of flooding throughout Tonbridge, and added: “The more water the FSA can hold, the better the chance of avoiding issues like 2013/14.”

    Leader of Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council, Nicolas Heslop, said: “This is a very important and complex project, which will benefit communities in our borough enormously. I’m delighted that the Council is able to help fund this key piece of work.”