Multi-million pound flood management scheme to be unveiled
Sarah Lucy Brown
Multi-million pound plans to protect three villages in north Essex hit by serious flooding three times in the past 18 years will be unveiled next week.
In October 2001, Coggeshall, Feering and Kelvedon suffered from significant flooding - and the villages were further hit in May 2012 and February 2014,
The Environment Agency has since forged a partnership with Blackwater Aggregates to find a financially viable solution to the issue.
Working with Blackwater Aggregates and local landowners, the Environment Agency says it has now identified its design option for the area and two drop-in sessions will enable residents to find out more about the scheme.
The option being taken forward combines the construction of an "on-line" embankment across the River Blackwater and an "off-line" flood storage area next to the river.
The £9million project will receive £1m from central government - via the Environment Agency - and £8m in direct funding through the Blackwater Aggregates partnership.
MORE: Future flooding risk warning to coastal and inland communities
However, Coggeshall Parish Council has raised some concerns about the proposed project, saying the village would pay "a heavy price" for the scheme.
The parish council says a quarry would be created close to the heart of the village which could mean up to 20 years of noise, dust and pollution, along with congestion caused by large numbers of heavy lorries.
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Tom Walsh, district and parish councillor for Coggeshall, said: "We welcome plans for suitable flood management but this scheme seems a bit like using a sledgehammer to crack a peanut.
"It is not clear that the cause of the 2001 flooding was from the River Blackwater near Coggeshall - the flooding was not simply the result of heavy rain.
"We are concerned about the proportionality of the plans and that the Environment Agency has seemingly already made its mind up."
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Peta Denham, flood and coastal risk manager for Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk, said: "Since July 2015 when we last met with the communities of Coggeshall, Feering and Kelvedon it has been our priority to develop a flood alleviation scheme which includes upstream flood storage on the River Blackwater which benefits and protects the communities from future flooding of a scale of an event last experienced in October 2001.
"We have forged a valuable partnership with Blackwater Aggregates to develop a scheme fit for the communities - a scheme that not only provides flood protection but will take opportunities to enhance the rich flora and fauna and biodiversity features forming the River Blackwater valley and develop new habitats."
Drop-in sessions will be held in Coggeshall and Feering on May 22 and 24 respectively and Environment Agency officers and Blackwater Aggregates representatives will be on hand to answer questions from members of the community.
Drop-in sessions will be held at the following times and locations:
Wednesday, May 22, 3pm-7.45pm at Christ Church, Stoneham Street, Coggeshall, CO6 1UH.
Friday, May 24, 2pm-7.45pm Feering Community Centre, Coggeshall Road, Feering, CO5 9QB.