£70,000 flood works approved by council

PUBLISHED: 10:15 25 March 2014 | UPDATED: 10:15 25 March 2014

(c) Hemera Technologies

Emergency works to repair vital flood defences in Topsham have been approved by Exeter City Council.

The work will be carried out on an embankment which protects five homes at Riversmeet, Bowling Green Road, and also the Bowling Green Marshes, from tides in the Exe Estuary.

A serious breach of 30 to 35 metres was caused to this embankment by last month’s severe storms, leaving the road liable to flood several times a year at high tide, when the homes would be effectively cut off.

Residents immediately alerted the Environment Agency (EA), however the city council’s executive was told on Tuesday evening that the EA had assessed the damage and decided not to repair it, on the grounds that the risk to life from flooding was low.

Councillors were also told that the EA was changing its policy for the area to ‘retreat management’, meaning it would no longer maintain flood defences there.

Not only was this bad news for the homeowners, but also the RSPB, which leases the Bowling Green Marshes from the council, and had concerns that this would see its freshwater habitat turn into a saltwater habitat.

Faced with these concerns, the council has now stepped in to repair the damage.

The estimated cost of the work is in excess of £70,000, however, the council says this money can then be reclaimed from the Government under the Bellwin scheme, which is reimbursing local authorities for work carried out following the winter storms.

Acting council leader Rachel Sutton said: “I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who heard David Cameron say money was no object.”

Now the work has been approved, the council will move quickly to carry it out, as it has to be completed by the end of May to receive the funding.

Cllr Sutton added: “It really was important we took a decision and got on with it. It’s the right thing to do.”

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