Thursday, 22 April 2021

Regatta plans to strengthen riverbank to stop erosion

Regatta plans to strengthen riverbank to stop erosion

HENLEY Royal Regatta is planning to strengthen the river bank to prevent erosion.

Organisers of the annual rowing event say up to 1m is being eroded every year in the worst-hit places.

It wants to lay gravel on the riverbed, along with vegetated coir rolls and submerged rock rolls.

The affected area is near Fawley Meadows on the Buckinghamshire bank and is 650m long, 170m on the Henley side and 480m on the Wycombe side.

Planning applications have been submitted to both South Oxfordshire District Council and Buckinghamshire Council.

Sir Steve Redgrave, chairman of the regatta’s management committee, said: “The regatta has been looking at suitable schemes to stop the erosion since 2014, working with expert designers and contractors as well as receiving significant input from the Environment Agency.

“We now feel we have a scheme that meets the long-term needs of stabilising the bank for the future while delivering an enhanced visual and ecological benefit.”

The application says: “Over recent years, the Henley Royal Regatta’s land along the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire bank of the River Thames at Fawley Meadows has been actively eroding where it is unprotected. Concern about the rate of erosion has been flagged by a number of parties who use the river bank, including the Thames Traditional Boat Festival, as well as the regatta’s mooring bailiff and river contractor.

A section of footpath on the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire boundary is getting close to the bank edge and is in danger of being lost in the longer term if no action is taken to protect the land it crosses.

“Given the more rural feel of the land at Fawley Meadows compared to the opposite bank, Henley Royal Regatta was keen to adopt a softer, more natural scheme to blend into the landscape, particularly as the river scene changes moving downstream away from the town. River bank protection is required to reduce any further erosion. It is estimated that up to 1m of bank is eroded in a year. The river bank protection will consist of green bio-engineering solutions to strengthen the bank and improve biodiversity in the area.”

A flood risk assessment states that a number of trees are at risk due to the erosion. It states that boat wash, mooring activities and flood damage have all contributed to the problem.

This year’s regatta has been pushed back by more than a month to August 10 to 15 due the coronavirus restrictions and could also be moved to Dorney Lake in Buckinghamshire. The organisers are expected to make a final decision any day.

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