In June 2013, the government announced the Flood and Coastal Risk Management (FCRM) Grant in Aid (GiA) national funding available for Spending Review 2013 (SR13). In a change to previous annual arrangements, a 6 year funding commitment was given by DEFRA. The agreed funding for flood defences in 2015/16 was identified as £370m, increasing to over £400m by 2020/21. In return the FCRM capital programme needed to reduce risk of flooding to 300,000 houses between 2015/16 and 2020/21, improve capital programme efficiency by 10% and include at least 15% in partnership contributions (non FCRM GiA funding).
The Dickens Heath Scheme
As part of the Trent Regional Flood and Coastal Committee 6 year programme, Solihull Council submitted a bid for improvements to Dickens Heath balancing pond, located to the south edge of Dickens Heath, off Rumbush Brook which is a tributary of the Mount Brook. The bid sought to make improvements to the capacity and condition of the balancing pond.
The bid forecast total project expenditure of £230,000, to be made up of GiA funding of £20,000 and with the remaining £210,000 being sought from other local contributions and funding from other Environment Agency functions. As part of the Trent 6 year programme, £20,000 of GiA funding was allocated in 2020/21, but discussions are currently on-going to bring this money forward earlier on in the programme.
The Cheswick Green Scheme
Officers are keen to ensure that Cheswick Green benefits from any scheme that is implemented in Dickens Heath. Since submission of the original Dickens Heath bid, Officers have been looking at how it could be expanded to include Cheswick Green and to help households in Cheswick Green who have experienced flooding in previous years.
Officers are in the very early stages of looking at what sort of scheme could be feasible. Modelling work is therefore being carried out to understand how the local watercourses work in order to confirm how many households are currently at risk and to complement work previously undertaken by the Environment Agency. Work will then be undertaken to understand how the risk to those households could be reduced, without increasing risk (likelihood and impact) elsewhere, either downstream or upstream of the village.
Naturally, as and when further information becomes available then this will be shared with the local community at the appropriate time.
Essentially, through more effective use of reserves, it is hoped to bring the planned works forward, ahead of the six year programme, and that the needs of residents further down the water course (i.e.. Cheswick Green) benefit from the investment.
This can only be good news for residents of Dickens Heath and especially Cheswick Green and more information will be shared when known.