8 November 2005


                                                                                    Ewan Larcombe

67 Lawn Close

                                                                                    Datchet SL3 9LA

                                                                                    Tel       01753 544302 (home)


An open letter to Mrs Jean Venables, Vice-President of the Institution of Civil Engineers.


Dear Mrs Venables,


I read recently that you were Chairman of the Thames Region Flood Defence Committee for nearly nine years until mid 2003 and during that time you masterminded the funding of the £100m Maidenhead, Windsor and Eton Flood Alleviation Scheme, now called the Jubilee River.  Apparently you were then awarded an OBE in the 2004 New Years Honours for services to flood defence.


May I take this opportunity to remind you that it is now almost three years since the January 2003 event when hundreds of Thames Valley homes down stream of Windsor were flooded without warning, for the first time since 1947.  The Environment Agency apparently used their brand new Jubilee River (JR) flood alleviation scheme to by-pass the towns of Windsor and Maidenhead and thus deposit the floodwater on the villages instead.   The EA have now spent £1.3m repairing 300m of embankment in Datchet and £680,000 repairing the Slough Weir, yet they continue to claim that any flooding downstream was purely coincidental, and deny that substandard design, construction and operation of the JR, combined with failure to dredge the Thames since 1995 exacerbated the flooding.  Indeed your husband (Professor Roger Venables) appears to support my views on the detrimental consequences of the Environment Agency cost cutting exercises after the construction contracts were placed (ref. RAE ‘Engineering for Sustainable Development: Guiding Principles’)


For your information, the JR is still unable to carry its design capacity of 215 cumecs and repairs are ongoing into 2006.  Furthermore flooding downstream of Windsor is no longer a naturally attenuated event, now being ‘managed’ by an EA employee who can operate the gates of the Taplow flow control structure in order to flood one section of the community rather than another. 


In conclusion, I do believe that you are both aware of the injustice that has occurred here, and in a position to at least ‘put the record straight’.




Ewan Larcombe