Thousands of homes in south west London and Surrey will be better protected from flooding, after the Government approved the business case for the River Thames Scheme last week.
The £501m scheme will see two new flood relief channels constructed at Runnymede and Spelthorne, together with capacity increases at Sunbury, Molesey and Teddington weirs and the Desborough Cut.
The scheme will reduce the flood risk for 11,000 homes and 1,600 businesses in communities along the river, with detailed design and planning work now underway and construction expected to begin in the mid 2020s.
A spokesperson from the Environment Agency said: “Many of the communities in this area have already been affected by flooding with major floods in 1947, 1968, 2003 and most recently in 2014 when approximately 1,000 homes were flooded internally.
“The estimated economic impact of a major flood is currently around £1 billion but damage could be twice as great by 2055 because of the impact of climate change.”
The Environment Agency will engage and consult with the community on plans to also introduce new walking and cycle paths, parks and wildlife habitats as part of the scheme.
Surrey County Council is supporting the scheme through the £270m Surrey Flood Alleviation Programme, while other local authorities are also delivery and financial partners.
Tim Oliver, leader of Surrey County Council, said: “This is great news for Surrey and its neighbours.
“The scheme means communities along the River Thames can look forward to a brighter future knowing that Surrey County Council, the Environment Agency, their partners and the project’s team of expert engineers are working hard to reduce the likelihood of their homes and businesses flooding.”