In the Windsor constituency we are well aware of the devastating impact that floods can have on people homes, lives and livelihoods.
Almost every winter the River Thames swells and our flood defences are tested. Three years ago we watched with alarm as the gauges on the Thames reached the highest levels recorded since their introduction as we were hit by serious winter floods.
Across the Thames Valley hundreds of homes were flooded and thousands of sandbags were laid down as emergency barriers.
First, I want to say thank you for the overwhelming support and my re-election as the MP for Windsor. It means a lot to me. You have my commitment that I will continue to work hard to protect and improve our constituency and our country.
The local election results for the Bracknell Forest and the Royal Borough could also not be any clearer. In RBWM local residents have supported the Conservative team in 95% of the seats, electing 54 Conservatives to the 57 seats available.
After eight years running the Council local Conservatives have been returned with an even stronger mandate this time. It’s not surprising when Conservatives have reduced council tax by 30% whilst improving local services.
It was a delight to have been on the local campaign trail with our Conservative candidates who put their positive message of low taxes, better public services and improving infrastructure for local people.
The MP for Windsor, Adam Afriyie was behind a recent Parliamentary Question, asking how many homes would be protected by new flooding defences.
The Minister who replied, Dan Rogerson, said that the Government’s plans would protect 400 homes in Windsor and Maidenhead and up to 3,000 in total around the Thames Valley.
Mr Afriyie commented:
“Phase one of The River Thames Scheme is underway and it’s great to have the funding in place from Government for the whole scheme, which will protect 15,000 homes between Datchet and Teddington.
“But I want to keep flooding on the political agenda as the election approaches and that’s why I continue to raise the issue in Parliament and work with our local councillors and campaign groups.
It was a moving moment to be unanimously readopted as the candidate by the Windsor Conservative Association, back in 2013. To receive their endorsement means a lot to me, and has enabled me to continue focussing my energies on fighting for the things that matter to residents.
Having come from a pretty tough background in South East London it is a huge privilege to have served as the MP for Windsor since 2005. We’ve achieved a lot since then, but there is so much more to do and I am determined to see it through if re-elected in May.
2015 will be an important year for the future of Windsor constituents and our country. With the General Election just 12 weeks away we face perhaps the starkest choice in a generation.
Adam Afriyie (Windsor, Conservative): To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent progress has been made in deregulating the consent process for river maintenance pilots; and what plans she has to start new pilot schemes (a) along the Thames in Berkshire and (b) elsewhere.
Dan Rogerson (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for water, forestry, rural affairs and resource): On 10 December 2014, Defra launched a consultation on proposals to integrate flood defence consents into the Environmental Permitting framework. The new scheme will simplify the application process while removing unnecessary costs and burdens for those who wish to carry out construction works or other activities in, or near, main rivers.
The River Maintenance Pilots (which explore how red tape could be reduced for landowners who wish to undertake maintenance in man-made ditches, land drains or previously straightened watercourses that had been dredged in the last ten years) were launched by the Environment Agency in October 2013 and were scheduled to last for one year. In response to interest shown by local farmers, the pilots were expanded in May 2014 to include two new pilot areas, and expand an existing area. To allow those affected by the 2013/14 floods extra time to carry out their work, the pilots were also extended until mid-March 2015. We will consider the evidence from the pilots when they are complete.
In addition, the Environment Agency and National Farmers Union are launching a new local initiative across rural Oxfordshire to help landowners along tributaries of the River Thames with the consenting process. This initiative will start in 2015/16 and it is likely to expand into Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.