Planning Permission Granted for River Bank Protection Scheme at Fawley Meadows

Henley Royal Regatta have been granted planning permission again to install a river bank protection installation on a section of the riverbank at Fawley Meadows following erosion.

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. In addition a section of footpath 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. It is estimated that up to 1m of bank is eroded in a year.

Planning permission was granted in 2019 for works to protect the same 650m section which expired.  The river bank protection scheme will consist of green bio-engineering solutions, to strengthen the bank and improve biodiversity of the area. It will see vegetated coir rolls installed over submerged rolls which will be backfilled, pre-seeded geotextile bags and suitable growing medium, installed over submerged large stones.  Hazel/timber bundles will be fixed securely to the large stone baskets on the riverside and a layer of gravel underwater on river bank to protect naturally formed, ‘beaches’.

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 in to the landscape, particularly as the river scene changes moving downstream away from the town. This has been quite difficult to achieve, particularly balancing the cost of the scheme against potential lifespan.

The proposal is a marked improvement compared to the opposite bank which is sheet piled and is in accordance with the most up-to-date national and international guidance on river bank protection and vetted by the Environment Agency.

The bank protection will help halt erosion of the bank and any future erosion of a public footpath running alongside the bank. Thereby ensuring the amenity value provided by the footpath will not be damaged and can be adequately accessed by walkers.

Henley Royal Regatta have not confirmed when the work will commence.

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