Hereford's New Flood Defence Scheme Gets A Battering
InSITE's Amy Nicholass reports..
The Environment Agency has planning permission for a new £5.5 million flood defence scheme around the Bishops Meadow and Hinton Road area of Hereford to protect land from future flooding. The scheme is designed to protect 196 properties including 25 listed buildings. Work is due to start in April 2007 and is predicted to last until February 2008.
Over the past few weeks there's been a growing campaign against the plans and concern over disruption to the use of the King Edward VII Playing Fields and the felling of over 20 trees needed for the flood defences to be put in place. The Campaign group called ‘Hereford Coalition for Better Flood Defences’ includes Hereford Civic Society, Hereford Friends of The Earth, Cycle Hereford and Hereford Disabled Users Access Group.
Campaigners were also concerned by the height of flood defence wall which will be built as part of the scheme, worrying that it would cause a divide between communities south and north of the river. According to the Environment Agency the height of the permanent wall depends on ground level but averages out at about one metre high. It will be replacing areas of hedge that already forms the perimeter of the park, so that very little of the scheme will affect the open space of the park.
The Environment Agency (EA) held a consultation day at The Left Bank, Hereford on 28th February to ease people's concerns. A representative at the event said that the current defence scheme is the only viable option for Hereford and that the plans have been in development for over five years.The EA say that the trees that will be cut down will be replaced with more trees and the work will be done in such a way as to minimise the disturbance to wildlife.
The Campaigners and The Environment Agency recently held a meeting to try and resolve the situation and address some of the concerns that have been raised. Possible changes that are being considered include a new pedestrian access to the swimming pool to avoid the car park and traffic flow. The Coalition will lobby the Planning department with the aim of having either an embankment or combined embankment and wall alongside Hinton road to replace the wall which is outlined in the original design for the scheme.
There are no plans to change the height of the wall or it's location. The Environment Agency has also ensured that none of the sports pitches on the playing field will be lost.
Both parties recognised the importance for flood defence works to start as soon as possible and to ensure that funding for the scheme is not lost. The Coalition will work with the EA and Herefordshire County Council to ensure that a further planning application for any proposed changes is not required and that the project can proceed on time.