New Bylaws have been introduced in Wokingham that the Council hopes will reduce the flood risk in areas such as Arborfield. Wokingham Borough Council now have legal anti-flooding powers that will allow the Council to prosecute people who cause blockages to watercourses or damage to riverbanks that could lead to an increased risk of flooding.
These new land drainage bylaws that have been introduced means that there cannot be any developments built within eight meters of drainage ditches. This restriction is thought to reduce the risk of flooding created by manmade obstructions or damage. The penalty for breaking the bylaws that have been introduced by Wokingham Borough Council could lead to a court appearance at the Magistrates as well as a significant fine and a criminal record.
The Council applied for the legal powers that would allow them to control the changes to watercourses as well as manage the number of obstructions and disruption to vegetation. The borough council had to apply to the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, or DEFRA; which they have done successfully in order to be granted with the legal powers to reduce the manmade factors that can lead to flooding. The legal powers have been granted after a public consultation that took place last year.
The specific bylaws in Wokingham will give the council control over any land that is within eight meters on either side of the bank of a ditch in the council area. This means that developers and farmers that are looking at building houses or any form or agricultural structure will be prevented from doing so near a ditch in order to make sure that there is no change to the natural flood plain. This also means that there will be a buffer zone created for wildlife as well as protecting homes from flooding. Landowners will also be made to make sure that any livestock in these areas do not damage the riverbanks by installing fencing and any vegetation nearby needs to be cut in order to allow the free flow of water.