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The Jubilee River story - Happy Birthday (Ten Years)
12 March 2006 - Ewan Larcombe, 67 Lawn Close, Datchet SL3 9LA
On 1st April the Environment Agency will have been in existence for ten years, so I would like to take this opportunity not only to wish them ‘Happy Birthday’, but also to list some of their memorable achievements to date.
The entire length of their £110m Jubilee River project suffered severe structural damage on first use in January 2003. Design and construction shortcomings incurred repair costs of £2m to the Slough Weir and the Myrke embankment in Datchet. Still awaiting further repairs, the scheme is currently unable to convey the design capacity of 215 cubic metres of flood water per second. Taplow flood gate operating instructions have still to be agreed, with the issue of liability awaiting consideration. Despite assurances given at the 1992 Public Inquiry, the Jubilee River has been a breeding ground for algae every year. Surely the EA should consider prosecuting themselves for pollution, or do they operate double standards?
Using a combination of obfuscation and filibustering, the EA have successfully repelled accusations that their use of the Jubilee River exacerbated flooding downstream of Windsor. The EA will also have saved many millions of pounds by terminating (in the mid 1990s) the Thames dredging for flood defence purposes that had taken place since the floods of 1947. The EA are apparently responsible for the Thames but have no duty to maintain it for flood defence purposes. The Thames is just a drain, and unfortunately the issue of aggradation leading to bed rise flooding as a consequence of cessation of dredging has now been raised, and will be difficult to explain away.
Finally, with the publication of their new flood maps and scaremongering on flood warnings, the EA have had a significant impact on property values and insurance costs, and a permanent detrimental impact on the physical and mental health of the inhabitants of flood plain downstream of Windsor. Happy Birthday EA.
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