WORK on a £3.4m underground pipe that could finally solve Hambledon’s flooding problems could start at the end of the year.
More than 250 people packed into Hambledon Church to hear about the latest developments in the village’s mission to avoid the flood crisis of last winter.
Leaders of Hampshire County Council and the Environment Agency had met earlier in the day at Winchester and there are now positive signs the flood alleviation scheme will become a reality.
The downside is construction of the one metre-wide pipe beneath Hambledon’s main road could take a year to complete.
It means villagers may have to survive two more winters without robust flood defences.
The hope is the extreme weather was a one-off, but villagers are still planning for the worst-case scenario.
Tony Higham, chairman of Hambledon Flood Action Group, said: ‘Preparations are proceeding well.
‘A design company will be contracted in June with work commencing at the end of the year and taking about 12 months to build.
‘The business case for the pipe has gone in. I’m very encouraged by the meeting I went to.’
The county council is set to provide £2m for the work and the Environment Agency could provide £1.4m if the cash injection is finally approved.
The pipe would be more than one mile in length and would be built in sections of about 20ft.
Mr Higham said it would cause some inconvenience.
But he said: ‘I think anybody involved in the flooding would swap for this. The difference it is going to make is enormous.’
He added: ‘There’s the worry about the winter of 14/15 and 15/16. We are biting our finger nails.’
The next key meeting will take place at Westminster on May 6 when Meon Valley MP George Hollingbery and Hampshire leader council Roy Perry will meet with flood minister Dan Rogerson.