Flood meeting bemused me
I AGREE with everything David Noble wrote about flood risk management (Letters, September 17). I was a member of the Houghton & Wyton Internal Drainage Board for over 40 years and was chairman for 26 years. Before this, I experienced the 1947 floods, when
I AGREE with everything David Noble wrote about flood risk management (Letters, September 17).
I was a member of the Houghton & Wyton Internal Drainage Board for over 40 years and was chairman for 26 years. Before this, I experienced the 1947 floods, when most of the village was covered in water, varying from six inches to five feet according to ground levels. It was an experience that I do not want to happen again. As a result, I joined the IDB.
The board worked to build a new flood defence system and constantly upgraded it with major assistance from the old Great Ouse River Authority.
The major drainage channels in the area were cleared of weed and obstructions every autumn and dredged throughout, every three or four years, as necessary.
When the Environment Agency took over responsibility for flood protection from the IDB some years ago, it agreed to maintain the same standards. I fear that in some cases it is not doing this.
Since then we have noticed that certain areas have not been dredged, and in parts of Meadow Lane in Houghton the overhang of hedge and tree growth has spread so much that you cannot see the brook. Also, the main channel from the pump house in Thicket Road to the river is showing signs of neglect.
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Recently, the chairman of the parish council and I met three representatives from the agency and showed them the areas we were concerned about. Their responses were: we do not remove hedge and tree overhang over the brook, which is the responsibility of the riparian owners. How can you expect 20 or 30 riparian owners to agree a course of action?
They also said: we do not dredge and leave the spoil by the side of the lane. That is a practice that has gone on for centuries. They said it was against EU regulations on health and safety. Surely it is a greater threat to health and safety to allow the village to flood, which will happen if they do nothing.
Thirdly, they said: we do not maintain the brook from the pump house to the river because it is flood plain. My response was: why not? In any case, much of this is not natural flood plain.
I came away from the meeting utterly bemused, as if we were banging our heads against a brick wall.