Extract from Daily Mail Online

With more heavy rain forecast, thousands of people living near the River Thames close to Windsor Castle are facing a royal nightmare.

Residents in Old Windsor and the nearby villages of Datchet, Horton and Wraysbury are anxiously watching the rising water levels surging past their homes amid fears after an affordable insurance scheme is pulled.

The first stage of the River Thames Scheme, called Channel One, a defence plan which would have shielded the villages from flooding, won’t be going ahead.

After the major nation-wide 2014 flood disaster, which saw Datchet and Wraysbury become the epicentre of media and political attention, the Government set up a scheme in 2016 called ‘Flood Re’ to enable 85 insurance companies to provide household flood cover at an affordable price.

According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Flood Re has covered over 256,000 household policies in 2021/22 and more than 450,000 properties have benefitted since its launch.

Before the scheme came along, householders who had made prior flood claims could not get quotes from five or more insurers.

However, Flood Re will only last until 2039, and many villagers fear they will have to pay out hundreds of thousands of pounds to stay insured.

Some say they can’t afford that, leaving their homes unsellable or unable to be mortgaged.

Owners planning to sell up will find prospective buyers are put off because of the flood insurance risk, and their homes could be blighted.

Properties currently worth £1 million-plus, as many are in the affluent villages near Windsor, may slump to a rock-bottom price.

Villagers are campaigning for the reinstatement of the flood defence scheme Channel One, which the Royal Borough Council of Windsor and Maidenhead deemed unaffordable.

England will suffer another drought this summer unless there is exceptional rainfall in coming months, says the Environment Agency.

The effect of a lack of flood defences is already affecting peoples’ insurance, some villagers have claimed.

Wraysbury flood warden Dave Francis, who attended meetings with then Prime Minister David Cameron during the 2014 flood event, said his insurance used to be £720 but soared to a staggering £5,600, and he blames the scrapping of Channel One.

He now fears with the removal of the promised Channel One, he won’t be able to get cover.

Datchet Parish Council chairman David Buckley said a resident was quoted to pay £250,000 as an ‘excess’ before an insurance company will pay out if his property flooded.

He said ‘Once Flood Re finishes, there is concern the government won’t renew it because of climate change and coastal erosion due to finances.

‘It means areas like us won’t be insurable, meaning people won’t get mortgaged and won’t sell their property.

‘People find it very hard to get insurance, but they have this security that they can get insurance at an affordable rate while this Flood Re is in place.’

A Flood Re spokesperson said: ‘Our purpose is to create a more resilient market within 25 years of our creation and leave behind a long-lasting legacy that will positively impact future generations beyond our 2039 exit date.

‘It is important that our legacy leaves not only a resilient market but also a resilient nation of homes.

‘However, success will be a collective effort, requiring positive action from the public, insurers, developers, and government.

‘We at Flood Re, motivated by the reality of our 2039 deadline, will not cease in our commitment to ensure that the UK, despite the increase in extreme weather events, is always able to manage its present and future flood risk.’

DEFRA said it is working with the council and the Environment Agency on a new River Thames flood defence scheme that will ‘protect properties between Datchet and Hythe End’. But as the project is in its early stages, details are unclear.

DEFRA have urged resident to sign-up for its flood warning service.

Meanwhile further upstream in Oxfordshire, Hollywood film star George Clooney and his neighbours are anxiously watching water levels in the River Thames today as the relentless rain causes floods mayhem in many parts of Britain.

George, his lawyer wife Amal and their children live in a £10million millhouse yards from the swirling river at Sonning near Oxford which has had its garden flooded several times in the past.

Former Prime Minister Theresa May also has a home in the village but it is relatively safe from flooding as it is on higher ground.

The EA warned Oxford residents living near the Thames this week, with more rain on the cards ‘Flooding is possible – be prepared.

‘River levels are high on the River Thames. Therefore, flooding of low lying paths, roads and land is expected to continue on the River Thames and its tributaries throughout Oxford.

‘It is expected that river levels will slowly rise over the coming days in response to rainfall before stabilising later in the week.

‘Our incident response staff are operating weirs to reduce flood risk.

‘Please remain safe and aware of your local surroundings, be aware of flood water and avoid using low lying footpaths near watercourses.’

Extract from Original post Daily Mail Online

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