Work on a new flood culvert beneath the railway will commence in May 2020

Feniton is set to see its long planned flood relief culvert (Phase 3 of the Feniton Flood Alleviation Scheme) installed under the railway line over the weekend of 2 and 3 May 2020

East Devon District Councillors gave approval for Phase 3 at a meeting of Cabinet on 5 February 2020.

Cabinet’s go ahead follows a successful bid by the council for additional central government grant money to close the funding gap for the new culvert.

East Devon is working in partnership with Network Rail who will be delivering this crucial element of the Feniton Flood Alleviation scheme on the council’s behalf.

The Feniton Flood alleviation scheme largely consists of a new overflow culvert 900m long. This will run from the north of the village, under the railway line and into the original watercourse, which was enlarged as part of Phase 1 and 2.

Although Phase 3 (the under-track rail crossing) is the shortest in length of the project’s four phases, it has been the most challenging to deliver, due to it crossing the Exeter to London Waterloo main rail line.

The council expects the under track crossing construction site and surrounding area to become much busier in April for preparation for the crossing. This will then cumulate in an intense and continuous 48 hour work period over the Saturday 2 May and Sunday 3 May weekend.

There will be some inconvenience to local residents over this period, for which the council apologises and asks residents for their understanding of this important step towards reducing the flood risk to the community of Feniton. The flood alleviation scheme will leave 72 homes better protected from flooding.

While preparing for the new culvert under the railway to be constructed, the project team will work on securing further central government funding to progress Phase 4, which will link up phases 1, 2 and 3, and allow Feniton to enjoy reduced flood risk.

Work on Phase 4 will commence on site in April 2021, subject to central government money being available that year.

Feniton has a long history of flooding, dating back to 1901, but has experienced numerous flooding events since New Feniton was built in the early 1970s. The existing watercourse and railway culvert have insufficient capacity to convey excess water. Consequently, water overflows the banks and runs through people’s houses. It then backs up against the railway line and floods properties to great depths.

Following extensive flooding in 2008 and 2012, the local resilience group has been working tirelessly to reduce flooding. As recently as December 2019 their quick thinking actions averted further property flooding.

Cllr Susie Bond, East Devon’s ward member for Feniton, said:

The news of Cabinet’s unanimous decision to press ahead with phase 3 of the flood scheme has been greeted with resounding cheers in the village. There is light at the end of the tunnel for flooding misery in Feniton, although there is still a long way to go to complete the works. The tenacity and hard work of the council officers on this project, has been one of the key factors in pushing the scheme forward.

Cllr Geoff Jung, East Devon’s portfolio holder for the environment, said:

I am so pleased that East Devon’s Cabinet agreed to support this scheme for the next two phases, which will finally provide the protection from surface water flooding.

Because of the number of houses at risk, the Feniton scheme is our number one priority, with the Sidmouth Beach Management Plan a close second.

This Scheme will protect 72 houses from flooding that has been a constant threat to Feniton residents for many years.

As part of our commitment to tackling the effects of climate change, East Devon is working hard to meet the challenges posed by flooding throughout the district, including the Exmouth Tidal Defence Scheme and the Sidmouth and East Beach Management Plan project.

Further information about the Feniton flood alleviation scheme can be found on the East Devon website