Funding for much-needed Feniton flood prevention works, costing nearly £4million, has been secured after two years of waiting.
News about the vital works will come as a huge relief to residents, living in the 66 properties that are at risk of flooding, as well as the wider community which has had to live with the main road and other areas being flooded regularly.
The school had also had to be evacuated on numerous occasions, due to concerns of the children being able to get home safely.
Phases one and two of the Feniton Flood Alleviation Scheme were completed in 2015 and involved channel improvements downstream of Feniton.
Phase three and four were however put on hold, awaiting further funding approval, until now.
East Devon District Council (EDDC) has had to apply for further money for the project after unexpected costs arose with building an undertrack rail crossing and a new large pipe (culvert) system through Feniton.
The village has suffered regular flooding since the 1960s. Two of the largest flooding incidents happened in 2008 and 2012 and in the past two months alone it has flooded twice.
A dedicated and active flood warden volunteer group help reduce the risk of property flooding, and without their many hours of assistance, many more properties would flood regularly.
The new works will include building large (culvert) pipes, more than one metre in diameter, from the top to the bottom of the village, providing a by-pass around the existing drainage network.
Given the time passed since the scheme was detailed in 2014, EDDC is also going to look at any minor improvements that can be accommodated, as well as checking the performance of the downstream works already completed.
EDDC will now be working with Network Rail to find the next available date to close the railway and carry out the undertrack railway crossing, with the rest of the scheme following on after the crossing is complete.
EDDC’s leader Councillor Paul Arnott said:
One of my very first involvements in local protests was a march in Feniton back in 2013 in the presence of the then new independent ward member Cllr Susie Bond. I heard all about the problems Feniton faced with flooding, attenuation tanks, hard-surface run off and so on, and I am both delighted and relieved that my administration, working with a superb team of officers, has finally brought this project to the finishing line. Well done to all Feniton parish councillors, to Susie, to Cllr Geoff Jung and EDDC officer Tom Buxton Smith for their grit and perservance.
Cllr Geoff Jung, EDDC's portfolio holder for coast, country and environment, added:
I am really pleased for the residents of Feniton, after many years of waiting we can confirm that the long-awaited flood prevention scheme is finally going to happen. All flood elevation schemes are difficult to deliver with complicated historic drainage systems, many land ownership issues and many funding and budget complications. I would like to thank ex-councillor Susie Bond who was the Feniton district councillor for many years until moving away last year who encouraged and championed this project almost none stop whilst she was a councillor. Finally, through her tenacity and drive the district council will finally deliver this scheme.
EDDC's Feniton ward councillor, Alasdair Bruce said:
Let’s hope this brings closer to and end the anguish and stress those in Feniton and the surrounding area have suffered for too long. The mental health issues associated with a flooding event cannot be overstated, it undermines the fundamental premise that your home is your castle as well as your sanctuary. Provided Network Rail now get on and deliver, this woeful chapter can be consigned to the history of Feniton.
Cllr Martyn Smith, of Feniton Parish Council, added:
After more than a decade of frustrations, it is fantastic news that the scheme should now go on to completion and our thanks to Tom Buxton Smith who has worked so hard to make it happen.
For all those in Feniton who have suffered the misery of flooding time and again and all the volunteer flood wardens who turn at all hours it can only be a blessed relief. We can only hope there will be no further holdups.