09:10 - 11 August 2007


Residents in Burstwick whose homes were deluged with water during the floods fear they could be hit again unless a nearby drain is dredged.

The village, near Hedon, was one of the worst-hit areas in the region after rain lashed down in June.

Many parts including Trinity Close, Churchill Rise and Skeckling Close were under several feet of water for days.


Now, residents fear if nearby Burstwick Drain and others are not cleared they could be flooded again if the region has another heavy rainfall.

Residents say rubbish and a build-up of silt is keeping the water unnaturally high and it is not draining away as it should.

They want the Environment Agency, which is responsible for maintaining the drain, to get it cleared urgently.

Another problem for the residents is the village is below sea level and during the floods the only way to get rid of the water was to pump it uphill.

Adding to their woes are high tides from the River Humber, which leads into Hedon Haven and continues into Burstwick Drain.

Hedon Haven runs directly down to the Humber, where it meets a sluice gate. At low tide, water flows freely through the gate.

However, at high tide the gate closes leaving the water in the drain nowhere to go.

Ron Smith, who lives in Trinity Close, has kept a close eye on the drains since his house was flooded.

The 59-year-old said: "Burstwick Drain, Hedon Haven and nearby Stoney Creek have all got the same problem. There is a serious build up of silt, which is not allowing the water level to drop.

"Adding to that there are lots of reeds in the water, which is restricting the flow down to Hedon.

"The water is virtually still. It is not running as it should and cannot get away quick enough.

"During the floods the water came straight over the top of the banks.

"I admit there was a huge amount of rain, but I think if the drains had been properly maintained a lot of devastation could have been prevented.

"I have been recording the levels in the drain since the floods and it has hardly dropped.

"Three weeks after the flood the water was still within 12 to 14in of the top of the bank."

During the aftermath of the floods the Environment Agency brought in a 24in pump, one of the largest in Europe, to attempt to clear the area.

The five-ton pump is able to move 220 gallons (1,000 litres) a second and was being run with 12in and six-inch pumps working round the clock.

For more than a month Mr Smith, who is living outside his house in a caravan, has been trying to arrange a meeting with Environment Agency officials.

Countless e-mails and telephone calls were passed to the agency and finally Mr Smith got his wish.

Peter Holmes, Environment Agency flood risk manager, met him yesterday for a meeting that lasted more than three hours.

Mr Smith took him to see the state of the drains and explained his and other residents' fears.

Mr Smith said: "It was a fairly productive meeting, however he was not able to answer all my questions, but he did say he would take them away with him and get back to us.

"I told him we wanted a full survey of the drains to see how much rubbish and silt is in them.

"In the immediate future we need a vast majority of the silt taking out of the bottom and the reeds clearing.

"Following on from that it needs to be dredged at the minimum once a year."

Nick Drewery, of Beech Close, whose home was also flooded, is also worried about the drains.

The 38-year-old said: "Even before the floods I kept a check on the water level and had my concerns before the rain.

"I fear we could be in the same position if we have a heavy downpour in the near future.

"As well as the removal of the silt a matter of great urgency is to raise the levels of the banks.

"Another step could be to put pumps in at Hedon Haven as a back-up.

"They could be set in motion if the water level got too high and the excess pumped straight into the river.

"What we want to see is action from the Environment Agency and we wantassurances this will not happen again."

A spokesman from the Environment Agency said: "We are aware of the build-up of silt at Hedon Haven and our officers will be putting plans in place to remove this, which should lower the water level.

"We do a number of things on Burstwick Drain. Every two to three months we remove any silt build-up with the use of high-pressure pumps and when necessary we use a boat to excavate.

"We have twice-weekly inspections of the tidal doors at Burstwick Clough, to check for obstructions or build-up of silt.

"At the northern end of the drain, we carry out a maintenance programme every year that includes removing any flood obstructions, cutting back the weeds and monitoring the river bed.

"We have surveyed the bottom of the drain to find out what the levels should be and use this information to gauge the necessity of dredging.

"It has not been necessary."