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Residents near Jubilee River scheme fear repeat of 2014 floods

People downstream from the controversial flood relief scheme say they are watching the weather amid concerns their homes may be inundated with water.

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A flooded river bank next to the River Thames in Datchet in Berkshire. Picture date: Thursday February 4, 2021.

A flooded river bank next to the River Thames in Datchet in Berkshire. Picture date: Thursday February 4, 2021.

A flooded river bank next to the River Thames in Datchet in Berkshire. Picture date: Thursday February 4, 2021.

People living near a controversial flood relief scheme say they are looking anxiously towards the skies after heavy rainfall prompted fresh concerns their homes may be flooded.

People living by the Jubilee River, which was created nearly two decades ago as part of the Maidenhead, Windsor and Eton Flood Alleviation Scheme, say mismanagement has meant the manmade flood relief channel for the River Thames does not work anywhere near as well as it should.

Homeowners now fear a repeat of 2014, which saw properties flooded twice in the space of two months, amid concerns the Jubilee River protected upstream Maidenhead, where water is diverted from the Thames at high flow, at the expense of the likes of Wraysbury and Old Windsor, where the Jubilee rejoins the Thames.

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A flooded river bank next to the River Thames in Datchet in Berkshire (Jonathan Brady/PA)

A flooded river bank next to the River Thames in Datchet in Berkshire (Jonathan Brady/PA)

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A flooded river bank next to the River Thames in Datchet in Berkshire (Jonathan Brady/PA)

It comes after heavy rainfall in the area caused some localised flooding, while the Environment Agency issued flood warnings in the area.

Ewan Larcombe, who lives in Datchet, down river from where the Jubilee rejoins the Thames, said: “There’s been a lot of negligence, and a lot of suppression of the issues.

“What’s causing the flooding is that the land drainage infrastructure has been abandoned, which means a rise in the river bed, which means less capacity in the river.

“And now everybody downstream of the Jubilee is on edge.”

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Harry and William, the Dukes of Sussex and Cambridge, visited Datchet, Berkshire, during flooding in 2014 (Ki Price/PA)

Harry and William, the Dukes of Sussex and Cambridge, visited Datchet, Berkshire, during flooding in 2014 (Ki Price/PA)

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Harry and William, the Dukes of Sussex and Cambridge, visited Datchet, Berkshire, during flooding in 2014 (Ki Price/PA)

Graham Sinclair, who has lived in Wraysbury for more than 80 years, said: “At the moment we are about 38-40 inches above the normal river level.

“We still have another 15 or 20 inches until we would say this is a serious flooding issue.

“But it’s a problem because we are now all worrying and watching the weather all the time.

He said attempts to get the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead to pay for the Jubilee to be extended further downstream and protect homes have fallen on deaf ears.

He added: “Our problem is that after 2014, it was so difficult to shop around for home insurance because other companies wouldn’t want to cover you, so the existing home insurers had you by the balls.”

Another Wraysbury resident, who asked not to be named, added: “People are already panicking, trying to get hold of sandbags, because we are worried about another 2014 situation.”

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