The River Thames Scheme is a proposed scheme to reduce flood risk to over 20,000 properties in communities near Heathrow, including Datchet, Wraysbury, Egham, Staines and Chertsey.
The River Thames between Datchet and Teddington has the largest area of undefended floodplain in England, which places over 20,000 homes and businesses at risk from flooding. There is critical infrastructure at risk including junctions of the M25, rail links, water supply to the south-east and electricity supplies. We expect damages from a major flood could exceed £850m.
The scheme consists of large scale engineering work to construct a flood channel as well as improvements to three of the Thames weirs, provision of local flood protection for up 1,500 individual properties and improved flood incident response plans. The flood channel will be between 30 and 60 metres wide and 17 kilometres long (built in 3 sections).
We are working in partnership with the local authorities in the area to develop the scheme. It will deliver significant economic, social and environmental benefits alongside the reduction in flood risks including new wildlife habitats and areas for recreation. The shared vision for the scheme is:
‘protecting our communities; securing our economy; enhancing our Thames’.
What the scheme will involve
The River Thames Scheme will deliver the recommendations set out in the Lower Thames Flood Risk Management Strategy which was developed in consultation with other public bodies, businesses and residents in 2009. The strategy was approved and published in 2011.
The scheme will be carried out in two phases. Phase 1 includes:
- a hydrology and modelling study
- ecological surveys of the River Thames and specific sites
- installation of flood protection measures to individual properties at risk
- major incident planning to improve preparedness and response to flooding
- capacity increases to Sunbury, Molesey and Teddington weirs
- securing Government assurance and approvals
- developing a funding strategy for the scheme
- obtaining planning consents for the works.
Phase 2 includes:
- the detailed engineering design for the flood channel
- securing full, detailed planning permission and other consents for the flood channel
- the building of the three sections of the flood diversion channel and associated structures, and increasing the capacity of the Desborough Cut.
Progress on property-level flood protection
Property-level protection (for example door barriers, non-return valves and airbrick covers) is being offered to residents along the River Thames who will not be fully protected by the flood channel and engineering works.
Between December 2012 and February 2013, we held drop-in events for residents in the boroughs of Richmond, Windsor and Maidenhead, Runnymede, Spelthorne and Elmbridge, so they could find out about the scheme and register their interest. To date, over 300 residents have confirmed their interest in taking part.
Over the past six months we have been carrying out property threshold surveys and have gone out to tender for an experienced surveyor and contractor.
JBA Consulting Ltd has been appointed to undertake detailed property surveys which will assess property type, characteristics of construction and routes of water ingress. This will enable them to recommend a package of suitable flood protection measures for each property.
How to request a survey of your property
During September 2013, we completed property surveys in Wraysbury, Hythe End and Staines-upon-Thames. Surveys are currently being carried out in Teddington and Kingston, and we are in the process of arranging survey dates for residents in Thames Ditton and East Molesey.
It is not too late to register! If you live in these areas and have received a letter from us but have not yet registered, please get in touch and we will book a survey for you. Please contact JBA Consulting on 01633 410021 or by email:
Residents from Weybridge, Shepperton, Sunbury and Chertsey who have registered an interest will be contacted in November 2013.
What happens after the survey
Following completion of your property survey, you will receive the following documents by post:
- A property assessment report containing a list of recommended flood protection products.
- A draft agreement which you will be asked to read and sign.
- An invitation to attend a drop-in meeting for you to discuss your report and agreement form with the project team.
We have appointed UK Flood Barriers and Whitehouse Construction Ltd to undertake the installation works, which will start in autumn 2013.
Other work in progress
- In April 2012, we began our three-year programme of ecological surveys. These are essential for us to understand the local environment and inform our outline designs of the flood channel. So far we have surveyed bird populations and monitored water levels.
- We are seeking the necessary approvals to begin outline designs of the flood channel and capacity improvements. We hope to start this process in spring 2014 and it could take three to four years to complete.
- We are appointing a specialist team of consultants and contractors who will help us with these outline designs.
At this stage the exact timings to carry out the River Thames Scheme are uncertain. However, our aim is to start the capacity improvements to the Thames weirs within three years and the construction of the channel within six years. The construction period for the flood channel could be five to six years.
We are working with the local authorities to develop and deliver the Scheme. One of the main issues is funding. Following changes to the way flood defence funding is allocated, we currently have a significant shortfall for delivering the whole scheme. However, we estimate that we can secure £136 million from central government if we are able to find the local support and remaining funding required for the River Thames Scheme.
We are progressing Phase 1 with support from the Regional Flood and Coastal Committee’s local levy funding, and we are working with partners to bridge the funding gap, by identifying various sources of contributions.
Working in partnership is key to the success of the River Thames Scheme. A programme board is overseeing the delivery of the scheme. Membership of the board includes representatives from:
- Environment Agency
- Elmbridge Borough Council
- Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames
- LB of Richmond upon Thames
- Runnymede Borough Council
- Spelthorne Borough Council
- Surrey County Coucil
- Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead
If you have any questions about the River Thames Scheme, please contact us:
This page was updated on 15 January 2014.