Extract from Slough Observer 18-7-2022
Datchet parish council slams “misleading” motion to dredge River Thames
By James Bagley – Local Democracy Reporter
A PARISH council has criticised a councillor’s motion, which urges the Environment Agency (EA) to dredge part of the River Thames, as “misleading”.
A Conservative leaflet has been distributed around Datchet, stating Cllr David Cannon (Con: Datchet, Horton & Wraysbury), lead member for public protection, is to table a motion at Tuesday’s full Royal Borough council meeting demanding the EA to dredge the Royal Borough’s part of the river, especially between Black Potts and Bells Weir.
Dredging involves removing sediments and debris from the bottom of the river to create a greater depth of water for it to hold more capacity.
Cllr Cannon said the River Thames was dredged for 50 years by authorities until the EA decided to scrap it when it took maintenance management due to cost efficiencies and to protect a depressed muscle population.
The motion also urged the EA to speed up its alternative flood defence plans to protect Datchet, Horton, Wraysbury, and Old Windsor after the council’s part of the River Thames Scheme, channel one, was removed by the EA and Surrey County Council due to the Royal Borough not being able to afford it.
It stated channel one was removed in July 2019, when actually it was July 2020. Cllr Cannon said this was a typo and will be corrected.
But Datchet parish councillor Ian Thompson, lead member for flooding, criticised the leaflet for being “misleading,” saying the EA said “years ago” it won’t dredge the Thames due to cost efficiencies, the dumping ground it was using is filled, and the riverbed has contaminated heavy metal.
He explained at a parish council meeting on Monday, July 11: “If that was going to be the intention, where would they dump it? They can’t dump that material anywhere on land or in the sea because it is a contaminate. It will contaminate shellfish and other things down the estuary.”
Meanwhile, Cllr Ewan Larcombe (National Flood Prevention Party: Datchet, Horton & Wraysbury) said this was “trying to divert attention away” from the fact that the council is no longer part of the River Thames Scheme.
He also criticised the committee between the council and the EA that looks into alternative flood defence schemes from Datchet to Hythe End as the affected parish councils do not take part in these discussions.
He said: “We are the victims of a filibustering exercise. We’re just going around the loop yet again with no action, all talk, and all promises.”
Cllr Cannon called Cllr Thompson an “anti-dredger” and “unhelpful,” saying there is evidence from river users and riparian owners that there is a loss of river capacity and navigation by a cumulative build-up of silts and is asking the EA to look back at dredging as circumstances have changed since 1997.
He said: “We have committed £10 million in our current budget to support flood alleviation for the villages of Datchet, Horton, Wraysbury and Old Windsor, a commitment that Cllr Larcombe has voted against on at least two occasions.
“Everybody needs to work together towards delivering affordable and deliverable schemes to protect our communities, rather than continue to make political points about a previously unaffordable project that the EA no longer intend to pursue.