Downpours delay Stoke Canon defences
IMPROVEMENTS to flood defences in a Mid Devon village have been delayed – because of recent rain.
The £1.8m project at Stoke Canon involves the reconstruction of earth banks and new flood walls, and is expected to continue for several weeks.
The Environment Agency expected to complete the work by last November but prolonged heavy rain saturated the ground, and that posed difficulties in creating the embankments.
A spokesman for the agency said: "Once complete the improved flood defences will protect properties from flooding during events such as the heavy rainfall which we experienced at the end of 2012.
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"We have several weeks' work left to do, but little progress can be made until ground conditions improve. It is therefore difficult to give a date for completion of construction.
"When we started the work to improve the flood defences last June, we anticipated that it would take six months to complete and would therefore be complete by the end of last November.
"However, despite selecting a construction period spanning the summer months, we were subjected to prolonged periods of heavy rainfall, which caused very wet ground conditions and delayed construction.
"Much of the scheme consists of earth embankments, which are particularly difficult to construct when ground conditions are wet," he added.
Last year's downpours resulted in Stoke Canon being flooded on November 21 after the River Culm burst its banks.
The village was inundated again on December 23, the swollen River Exe the culprit this time.
The Culm reached its highest levels last winter since a gauge was installed in the 1960s, and the water in the Exe was recorded to be at its third highest at Thorverton since similar measuring devices were fitted in 1956. It was at its highest since 1965.
The agency spokesman added: "The new defences protected properties from flooding from the River Culm in November, but were not sufficiently complete to prevent property flooding from the River Exe in December."
The Culm flows into the Exe at Stoke Canon.
Agency contractor Birse is carrying out the work which will provide protection against a flood which has a one-in-a-100 chance of occurring in any one year.
The improvements will include nearly 1,200m of new or reconstructed earth flood banks, and over 150m of new flood walls and alterations to walls adjacent to Stoke Canon and Culm bridges.
Megan Rimmer, an engineer with the agency, said: "More than 100 properties will be protected once the construction is complete.
"Residents should be aware that the ground conditions in the area mean that some water will always seep under the defences in times of flood, even when the scheme is completed.
"This is managed by the surface water pumping station at Chestnut Crescent to prevent property flooding."
The original defences were built in 1966 and were considered to be in poor condition.