5/8/04 - letter on dredging (Sheffield Star)

Dredging riverbeds will alleviate floods

AT THE time of writing this letter, we are witnessing further flooding in the Midlands following the latest downpour. Sheffield and Hull will be forgotten and left to sort out the mess, as happened in Carlisle and York some two years ago.
The biggest single cause of flooding is the lack of river maintenance carried out on our nation’s waterways since the Environmental. Agency took control of our rivers in 1995.

Some flooding may be inevitable, but surely not on the scale we have seen recently. If rivers, ditches and drains were regularly dredged, then the water would flow away that much faster.

The current EA policy is to leave rivers etc alone and let nature take its course. In fact, the EA actively prevent farmers from maintaining and clearing ditches etc on their land under threat of prosecution.

All the EA can come up with are expensive schemes for flood defence systems to protect certain areas. These do not cure the problem as the water simply goes elsewhere.

“There is no point in dredging”, bleats the EA, “as the silt will re-occur! Poppycock! If the Highways Agency had the same policy, ie no point repairing the roads, they would only need doing again, there would be a public outcry. In short, rivers, streams and ditches are water highways and should be treated as such.

Peter Lowe, Buckingham Avenue, Chester, CH3.