WORK on flood prevention measures to protect more than 100 Thatcham homes are well under way.

Work on the attenuation pond at St Gabriel’s Farm, between Cold Ash Hill and Little Copse, north of Southend, is expected to be complete next month.

Attenuation ponds – or dry ponds – are designed to prevent flooding by storing excess rainwater, and allowing it to flow into the sewers at a controlled rate.

The pond will help protect 131 properties, including those in Southend, Billington Way, a couple in Northway and some in Northfield Road.

The scheme has been funded through government grants and contributions from Cold Ash Parish Council and Thatcham Town Council, and match funded by West Berkshire Council.

In July 2007, more than 1,100 homes in Thatcham flooded after heavy rain caused flash-flooding.

Speaking at the site, the chairman of the surface water management plan by Thatcham Flood Forum, Brian Woodham, said: “We’re extremely relieved to have got this under way. It’s only because of the contributions between the three councils that it’s gotten under way. Our concern is we don’t become the forgotten floods of 2007.”

The principal engineer at West Berkshire Council, Stuart Clark, said that the cost of works for the project was estimated at between £600,000 and £800,000, but the total could be higher as the council had to compensate the landowner and pay ongoing maintenance costs.

He added that the Cold Ash Hill scheme was part of a long-term plan for Thatcham and the first of several being drawn up, but securing funding could be a problem.

He said: “Thatcham is competing with areas across the country and we’re having to push, push, push all the time to get this for Thatcham.”

Flood forum member Peter Lavarack added: “We had 1,100 homes flood as opposed to Somerset, where 40 flooded on a flood defined area.  After seven years, people forget.”

Thatcham Town Council leader Bob Morgan said: “Thatcham Town Council was very pleased to be able to support the flood alleviation project work by providing £40,000 towards the costs.  Many Thatcham residents experienced the realities of having their homes damaged by flooding several years ago. These types of flood defences are critical to the sense of security of local people and the flood forum has done excellent work towards these aims.”

Source: Newbury Today, June 2014

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