CIVIC chiefs are looking at linking flood defence across three villages near Winchester.

Hampshire County Council is investigating long term options to improve resilience to flooding and drought in an innovative pilot in Littleton, Headbourne Worthy and Kings Worthy.

Cllr Rob Humby, deputy leader and executive member for economy, transport and environment, said: “Helping improve communities’ resilience to the impact of flooding is critical for the quality of life for many Hampshire residents, but there are rarely simple or straightforward solutions.

“Since the flooding in the winter of 2014, we’ve undertaken a number of projects, invested in infrastructure, bid for national funding and worked closely with partners to put in place improvements. In short, we’ve done what we can, but whilst engineering measures will improve flood resilience they will not eliminate all risk.”

In Littleton, Headbourne Worthy and Kings Worthy, the county council has worked with the local parish, city and county councillors, the Environment Agency, Winchester City Council, Defence Infrastructure Organisation, Southern Water, residents and landowners, to investigate what measures could be put in place to manage flood risk.

With the drainage systems of Littleton, Headbourne Worthy and Kings Worthy interlinked, the county council has adopted an integrated and catchment-based approach to ensure that the dynamics of the flooding are understood, and that measures developed for one area do not lead to flooding elsewhere.

Cllr Humby added: “A changing climate is likely to lead to more intense rainfall, more often, during the winter and hotter, drier weather in the summer so it is vital we take action to help areas which are particularly susceptible to the impact of too much or too little water. Highways drainage alone is not able to deal with the intensity of rainfall we are starting to see now.

“A broader, long-term approach on a landscape scale is needed – inclusive of the whole environment such as farming methods, land management and water management, and it will require input and collaboration from everyone involved to a much greater degree than ever before. It is time for a complete reset on how we think about how we manage water to establish the environment we need for the future.”

The strategic study will be undertaken as a pilot so that the outcomes can be evaluated and, if appropriate, applied to other areas.