New flood defence measures underway

Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council is supporting a project to increase the capacity of the Leigh Flood Storage Area (FSA) and develop an embankment to protect a further 230 homes from flooding in Tonbridge and Hildenborough.

The Council has contributed £500k to the scheme which is a partnership project between the Environment Agency (EA) and Kent County Council (KCC). Further funding has been secured from KCC, the South East Local Enterprise Partnership and DEFRA/the EA.

Currently, the Leigh Flood Storage Area protects 1,200 properties in Hildenborough and Tonbridge against the majority of flooding incidents, but an increased capacity would provide protection to even more homes. However, increased capacity alone would not prevent low lying land and homes from flooding, which are most at risk of flooding from high water levels in the River Medway flood plain. 

The proposed embankment would cross the natural Hawden Stream in Hildenborough and stop floodplain levels rising using a gate and pumping station. For most of the time the gate would be open and the stream would flow towards the River Medway as it does at the moment. In times of flood risk the gate would close to stop the rising levels in the floodplain and redirect the water into the pumping station to be pumped over the embankment downstream into the River Medway.

Having recently been approved by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, preparations for the works have now started on site and work will be carried out in stages with a completion target of autumn 2023.

TMBC’s Cabinet member for environment and climate change, Cllr Robin Betts, says: “This project is an important step in response to climate change and the increased risk of flooding in the coming years. We know only too well that many homes and businesses have been seriously flooded in the past and the fear of this happening again still exists for many. Once complete the new flood defence measures will offer reassurance to communities and peace of mind that homes and businesses will be protected against flooding in the future.”

Published: Tuesday, 12th October 2021