Environment Agency
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Leigh expansion and Hildenborough embankment scheme

More than 1,400 homes to be better protected from flooding. The expanded flood storage area will store 25% more water, equal to 600 Olympic-sized swimming pools

The Environment Agency’s £21.5m scheme to increase the capacity of the Leigh flood storage area and to build a flood embankment and pumping station in Hildenborough has started.

When operating, the Leigh FSA currently holds more than 5.5 million cubic metres of water. Once it’s been enlarged, it will be able to hold approximately 7 million cubic metres of water. That’s the equivalent to a total of 2,800 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Work will include installing three new gates at the Leigh FSA control structure. This will take place during the summer so that the structure can continue to operate during the higher-risk winter period. The gates will be specially-made, assembled and tested, ready for the work to begin in Spring 2024.

This year, the Environment Agency will raise a section of the flood embankment at Cattle Arch Bridge, near Leigh village, with a hardstanding constructed for temporary pumps. Work will also start on a new retaining wall at the Leigh Pumping Station to reinforce the existing embankment. The embankment raising work is expected to be complete in Autumn 2023 and at the pumping station by early 2025.

Ground-clearance work is now taking place in preparation for the embankment raising to start in early June.

Wherever feasible, the scheme will aim to have a reduced carbon footprint by using solar powered electricity and electric vehicles.

As part of the commitment to improving biodiversity, a new eel pass will also be integrated into the scheme to help eels migrate safely.

At Hildenborough, pre-construction surveys are ongoing, with construction due to start on the embankment scheme in Spring 2024.

It is expected that the full scheme will be completed by Autumn 2025.

This is a complex programme and timings could change, depending on external factors, such as the weather. Regular scheme updates will be provided to residents and stakeholders via newsletters and on GOV.UK.

Sally Harvey, Environment Agency area director for Kent, South London and East Sussex, said:

We are now pressing ahead with construction work, which will improve flood protection to more than 1,400 homes in Tonbridge and Hildenborough.

Thank you to the residents of Leigh and Hildenborough for their patience while the work is ongoing.

Our project team will be available to answer any queries and concerns that arise as the work gathers pace.

People can be assured however in the knowledge that the flood storage area will remain operational throughout the project.

Cllr Matt Boughton, leader of Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council, said:

It is fantastic news that the Leigh Expansion and Hildenborough Embankment Scheme has started.

As an active partner in the project, we look forward to the works completing in 2025 and offering greater protection to our residents and businesses.

Sarah Dance, South East Local Enterprise Partnership chair, said:

We are delighted to see work begin to improve the Leigh flood storage area and local embankments in Hildenborough.

This vitally-important investment has been long awaited and will bring greater piece of mind to those living and working in the locality, Crucially, It will also unlock new sites for the future, enabling Tonbridge and Hildenborough to attract new businesses and residents, creating a culture of growth that will benefit the whole local community.

Tony Hills, Kent County Council deputy cabinet member for environment, said:

Kent County Council has fully supported the Leigh Embankment and Hildenborough Expansion Scheme since its inception and we are very pleased it is starting. We can’t wait for it to be completed and to deliver improved flood-protection and climate resilience for our residents.

For more information – please visit the scheme’s GOV.UK page: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/leigh-expansion-and-hildenborough-embankments-scheme/leigh-expansion-and-hildenborough-embankments-scheme

The Environment Agency is working to deliver the scheme in partnership with:

  • Kent County Council
  • Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council
  • South East Local Enterprise Partnership

Funding is through the Government’s Flood Defence Grant in Aid, with contributions from Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council, Kent County Council and the South East Local Enterprise Partnership.

The investment is part of government plans to invest £5.2 billion in flood defence over the next 6 years.

Channel website: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/environment-agency

Original article link: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/leigh-expansion-and-hildenborough-embankment-scheme

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