DETAILS of proposals to create crucial new flood defences to protect the city have been revealed.
Improvements to Exeter's existing scheme are being fast-tracked and public consultation will take place this month.
Work on the defences, which will protect businesses employing 4,700 people as well as 2,850 homes, is likely to start next year. And the Environment Agency wants the views of residents – particularly on how new defences should protect the historic Exeter Quay.
The scheme will cost £25m – Exeter City Council and Devon County Council are each contributing £3m, the Environment Agency is providing £13m and the Government £6m.
The scheme involves creating a series of separate barriers, walls and raised banks across the length of the River Exe in the city, including:
St David's Station – new defence walls to protect the station, defence walls and banks to protect the track at St David's and extra defences for Cowley Bridge.
Exwick – construction of defence walls and banks and flood gates at Station Road.
Haven Banks – ground raising and defence walls.
Trews Flood Relief Channel – set to be improved to take greater capacity.
There are four particular areas where different options exist and public consultation will be held – the quay, the area around the Mill on the Exe, Mill Lane in Countess Wear and St Andrew's Road in Exwick.
As well as the public consultations there will be separate meetings for residents directly affected by the proposals.
Councillor Pete Edwards, leader of the city council, said: "I really want everyone to get involved. There is only a short period of public consultation but it is important that people participate.
"It is no use coming back afterwards and complaining if they don't like something."
The proposed scheme extends from Cowley Bridge in the north of the city to Countess Wear in the south.
It will generally consist of raising and extending the existing flood defence walls and banks, as well as making some modifications to some of the existing weirs and flood-relief channels.
George Arnison, the Environment Agency's team leader for flood risk assessment, said: "Our overall objective is to maximise the amount of flood flow that can be safely passed through the city.
"The new scheme should be able to cope with around twice the flow that was experienced in November and December last year."
The improved defences will reduce the annual probability of flooding from one in 40 to one in 100. Mr Arnison added: "The focus of the scheme is on better protecting the city. At the moment it does not include measures to protect the railway line upstream of Cowley Bridge.
"However, following the flooding in November and December we have started discussions with Network Rail to investigate what additional measures might be viable to better protect the railway."
According to the Environment Agency the solution to improve the defences is obvious for much of the scheme.
But the public should decide on what it wants to see at several key locations.
The agency is arranging meetings with residents at the quay, the area around the Mill on the Exe, Mill Lane and St Andrew's Road, during the week beginning March 18.
Mr Arnison added: "We will also be holding a public exhibition about the scheme on Friday, March 22, between 11am and 6pm and Saturday, March 23 between 10am and noon in the Guildhall, when we hope people will be able to drop by and talk to us and our partners from the city and county councils.
"We are still at a very early stage in developing our proposals, and there will be further opportunities for the public to see the details of the scheme as they evolve – in particular during the planning process which we envisage will start in early 2014."
A website www.bit.ly/Ex eterFD has been set up to provide information about the scheme as it progresses. It includes an email address for enquiries.
Meetings will be held for properties along St Andrews Road, Exwick – March 18, at Redhills Community Primary School, 4pm to 8pm.
For properties around Mill on the Exe – March 19, at Mill on the Exe pub, 4pm to 8pm.
For properties at the Quay – March 20, at the X Centre, 4pm to 8pm.
For properties on Mill Lane/Mill Road in Countess Wear – March 21, at Tally Ho Inn, 4pm to 8pm.
A public exhibition of the plans will be held at The Guildhall, March 22, 10am to 6pm and March 23, 10am to noon.
Map of planned flood defences:Red= New Flood defence. Black = How flooding hit the areaVideo:Simulation, created by the Environment Agency, demonstrates how severely area of the city could be effected in the event of prolonged and persistent rainfall for more than a day.