EA under fire over flood warnings
Agency denies more dredging will help



The Environment Agency has come under fire for its handling of warnings for the recent floods.

Councillors at Windsor and Maidenhead, whose borough includes Wraysbury and Datchet, have demanded EA bosses address a public meeting to explain why they sent out " mixed messages and delayed warnings to residents.”

The council also unanimously passed a motion demanding “regular reinstatement of dredging of the Thames as a permanent solution [to flood problems]”.

And it voted to pressure the Government to add the Datchet to Teddington River Thames [flood relief] Scheme to its programme of infrastructure projects of national importance.

Councillor Colin Rayner who moved the motions said:"We sometimes got as little as twelve hours' notice of severe flooding. The Environment Agency must be able to give the people of Wraysbury more reliable warnings because it is constantly monitoring flood levels upstream at places like Abingdon."

See our earlier story on the lower Thames relief scheme HERE

A spokesperson from the Environment Agency said: "The Environment Agency has been working with a number of multi-agency partners including local authorities, Borough Councils, emergency services and utility companies to help communities as they begin the recovery process from the recent flooding. This includes attending public meetings and providing advice to residents both out and about and at Flood Assistance Centres across the region.

"We will continue to work with communities for the foreseeable future as people start the recovery process, listen to their experiences and learn from them. This information will help inform our future work.

"Dredging and clearing channels are important parts of the Environment Agency’s maintenance regime, and last year (2012/13) we spent £45 million on keeping water flowing in channels (conveyance), which included dredging and desilting.

"Historically these activities were carried out more frequently, but as our understanding of rivers has developed we have improved our maintenance programme accordingly to deliver the greatest flood risk benefit.

"Our dredging programme on the Lower Thames was informed by a study by engineering consultants Halcrow, who carried out an extensive study of the benefits of silt removal.

" The conclusion was that the natural activity of the River Thames moves significantly more silt than mechanical dredging; making dredging inefficient. Dredging the Lower Thames would not have decreased the flood risk for communities that have recently flooded, and by carrying out this research we were able to dedicate more resources to more efficient and effective flood risk measures."

Earlier in the week a public meeting at Datchet vowed to keep the village's group of vounteers going in case of future flooding.

By Wednesday (Feb 26th) flood alerts remained along 18 stretches of the river from Oxford to Thames Ditton but warnings and severe warnings had been lifted. Latest details HERE.

River levels were returning to nearer normal but the clear-up operation is expected to take many weeks.. Levels were high at Walton and Kingston but within the expected range.

Windsor and Maidenhead Council was organising drop-off poimts with lorries to collect flood debris. See more details here And the council had received more than 200 offers of voluntary help for flood-hit areas.

For our earlier coverage see the links on last week's story and here
Story updated Feb 26th 2014

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Windsor and Maidenhead Council

South Oxon Council

Spelthorne Council

Elmbridge Council flood information