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Flooding returns to Huntingdonshire

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The Environment Agency’s description of the Alconbury Brook catchment in Huntingdonshire is that of being “relatively flashy” in comparison to the wider River Great Ouse catchment.

Water levels rise and cause flooding in Cambridgeshire.,
Alconbury Weston, Huntingdon
Tuesday 22 November 2022.
Picture by Terry Harris.

And as our photo gallery shows it reacts quickly to rainfall and the onset of flooding can be rapid.

Water levels rise and cause flooding in Cambridgeshire.,
Alconbury Weston, Huntingdon
Tuesday 22 November 2022.
Picture by Terry Harris.

Water levels rise and cause flooding in Cambridgeshire.,
Alconbury Weston, Huntingdon
Tuesday 22 November 2022.
Picture by Terry Harris.

Water levels rise and cause flooding in Cambridgeshire.,
Alconbury Weston, Huntingdon
Tuesday 22 November 2022.
Picture by Terry Harris.

Both Alconbury and Alconbury Weston have an extensive history of flooding, notably in 1998 when more than 100 properties flooded across both villages, and in winter 2020/21 when over 75 properties were flooded.

Records also indicate that properties have flooded in March 1947, July 1968, October 1987, November 2000, and March 2016.

Water levels rise and cause flooding in Cambridgeshire.,
Alconbury Weston, Huntingdon
Tuesday 22 November 2022.
Picture by Terry Harris.

Water levels rise and cause flooding in Cambridgeshire.,
Alconbury Weston, Huntingdon
Tuesday 22 November 2022.
Picture by Terry Harris.

Water levels rise and cause flooding in Cambridgeshire.,
Alconbury Weston, Huntingdon
Tuesday 22 November 2022.
Picture by Terry Harris.

“There are currently no formal flood defences in Alconbury or Alconbury Weston,” says an Environment Agency statement.

Water levels rise and cause flooding in Cambridgeshire.,
Alconbury Weston, Huntingdon
Tuesday 22 November 2022.
Picture by Terry Harris.

“Our previous studies to develop a flood alleviation scheme for the villages have been unsuccessful in identifying viable options. These either had an unacceptable impact on village aesthetics or based on the costs and benefits of a scheme, were unable to be eligible for government Grant in Aid (GiA) funding.

Water levels rise and cause flooding in Cambridgeshire.,
Alconbury Weston, Huntingdon
Tuesday 22 November 2022.
Picture by Terry Harris.

“We are reviewing options for a flood alleviation scheme, with the aim to identify a technically and economically viable scheme that will reduce the risk of flooding to the villages.

“The introduction of the Partnership Funding approach for flood risk management projects since the previous Alconbury study means that the project is now more likely to be eligible for a contribution from GiA funding but will require additional contributions from partners.”

What’s happened so far, engagement, and next steps

The Environment Agency says it is working with their consultant (Jacobs), have reviewed previous project appraisals, and identified new options to develop a long list of potential flood alleviation scheme options.

Water levels rise and cause flooding in Cambridgeshire.,
Alconbury Weston, Huntingdon
Tuesday 22 November 2022.
Picture by Terry Harris.

“We’ve been working closely with the Alconburys Flood Group, as well as other stakeholders including Cambridgeshire County Council and the Bedford Group of Internal Drainage Boards to help us develop the scheme,” says the EA.

Alconbury Weston flooding, Easter 1998. PHOTO: Environment Agency

“Their input has been hugely valuable in building our knowledge of past flooding events and impacts. The Flood Group members reviewed our initial set of scheme options to reduce flood risk, and their feedback helped us to refine those on the shortlist.”

Flooding in Hamerton Road, Alconbury Weston, January 2021
PHOTO: Environment Agency

A public drop in event as recently as June was attended by over 80 people. The EA also ran an online survey for people to give us their comments and feedback on shortlisted options.

The initial shortlist of options

Option: Reservoir – culverted bund (Alconbury Weston)

Option: Short diversion channel with reprofiling/improvements

Option: Culverted bund (Hamerton) and cumulative storage

In August, the EA provided more feedback on the shortlisted options

Next stage is an economic assessment for these options and the EA says, “if a viable option is identified, this will be included in a Strategic Outline Case for us to seek to obtain funding for the next stage of the project”.

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