and Leamington MP, James Plaskitt, today welcomed publication by the Environment Agency of
its Initial Feasibility Report on flood defences for Leamington. The main findings of the
report were discussed with the MP and local councillors on Friday night. The options
discussed in the report will be available for public comment via an exhibition in the Town
The Agency is also producing a leaflet summarising the report. This will be distributed
to every household in the areas which were affected by the flooding last Easter.
The report outlines possible options for building flood defences in the centre of
Leamington. The options range in cost from £2 7 million. The proposals include
high walls and barriers along the rivers edge as it flows through the town centre.
Mr Plaskitt said,
"Huge physical flood barriers in the town centre and our parks are clearly not a
viable option. The cost is excessive, and the environmental impact unacceptable."
The report also discusses the option of securing flood defence by means of
balancing areas upstream from the town centre. This involves flooding fields
and meadows deliberately in order to hold back the flow of water through the town centre.
Mr Plaskitt said,
"Flood balancing areas represent a more promising option, but the Radford Road
allotment area suggested by the Agency is inappropriate. I think the Agency will need to
examine sites further up-stream."
Ever since the publication of the Bye Report which found failures on the part of
the Agency last Easter and recommended changes in procedures Mr Plaskitt has been
calling for a flood warning exercise to be held in Leamington in order to reassure people
that the warning system would work properly in the event of an other severe flood. Mr
Plaskitt won backing for this from Eliot Morley MP, the minister with responsibility for
the Agency. Now, the Agency has told him that it is to undertake such an exercise in the
near future. Mr Plaskitt said,
"I am delighted that an exercise is going to be carried out. We need to see that
the system will work in order to restore public confidence. I hope the exercise can be
carried out before the first anniversary of last years flooding."
The Environment Agency is also looking into ways of making its warnings more
informative. Although most people know about the colour codes used, few know what action
they should take at various stages. The Agency is working on a simple card which can be
delivered to households in the risk area. It will set out what action householders should
At the time of the Easter 1998 floods, very few houses in Leamington were on the
at-risk list. One of the first things Mr Plaskitt asked to be done was a full
review of the list. The Agency confirms that there are now over 500 properties on the
list, entitled to receive direct phone warnings of flooding. Although all have been
contacted, only about 300 have agreed to receive the warning. Mr Plaskitt said,
"I would urge all those who have not yet agreed to receive the warnings to do so.
Protecting property will be made easier, and it could even save a life. I think
thats more important than worries about the impact on house values."