Campaigners have raised further concerns about flood prevention plans in Caversham which they warned could create ‘prison-style’ fencing.

The Environment Agency (EA) presented its early stage plans and answered questions from members of the public at the council’s Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport committee last week.

The latest design for the scheme – expected to cost around £25m – includes a combination of flood walls, embankments and temporary flood barriers.

Community groups, residents and businesses in Caversham set up Campaign for a Better Flood Alleviation Scheme (CABFAS) in January, calling for proposals with more detail and less environmental impact.

Caversham ward Cllr Richard Davies said the changes proposed are ‘some of the most significant changes to the environment in the area in decades’ and had provoked ‘an awful lot of interest, possibly alarm and certainly concern’.

He said the Caversham community need to be convinced of four things: that the proposal is proportionate to the risk; that there are not better alternatives; that it will achieve its aims; and that they have a voice.

Daniel Hayman, from the Heron Island Residents Association, expressed concern that the area could become fenced up ‘prison-style’.

He asked for information on the other options that have been considered and why they have been discounted.

Jo Emberson Wines, a project director at the Environment Agency, said hundreds of options had been explored and the most viable options have been costed and placed onto a shortlist.

She said the EA base all its calculations on proportionality to risk, using the best scientific evidence available and would test any scheme again once complete to make sure it is working.

Cllr Davies added: “Green space in Caversham, which is very precious to us, will be affected and some of it will be lost. Trees will be felled, cycling and pedestrian routes affected.”

“You will not achieve it unless you bring the community forward with you.”

Ms Wines said the EA is looking to achieve environmental net gain through working with the local community and environmental experts.

The EA expect the scheme to lower the risk of a major flood in 12 areas along the Thames in north Reading.

There is a 0.5 per cent chance of a major flood happening every year, according to the non-departmental public body.