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The Jubilee River story - Prof. Knight and the EFRA Committee Report

Evidence submitted to House of Commons EFRA Committee

Extract from memorandum submitted by Professor Donald Knight (FL 85)

Comments on the recent floods (Summer, 2007)

(vii) My last comment on the EA is one that possibly illustrates the lack of hydraulics knowledge. In my

last letter to Reg Purnell (27/07/05), I set out 5 issues that I thought were important concerning the new R&D

arrangements. Regarding one issue I said “As you are aware, I am still somewhat concerned about the

capability of some of the senior management within the Environment Agency in this respect, particularly

when dealing with technical fluid flow issues. You have to look no further than the Jubilee channel as a

monument to the “skills shortage” within the EA. A new £90 million channel takes only 2/3 of its design

flow—how basic can you get? Especially when the EA has a new “Conveyance Estimation System”,

developed through a £0.5million R&D managed programme, and then “launched” in June 2004. But it gets

even worse, as, in another criticism of the EA, I have to say that the CES software is still not available to

anybody within the Agency or by consultants who want it, due to EA “procedures’”.

(Extracted 8/5/2007)


Extract from report - House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee
Fifth Report of Session 2007–08

(Link to report



80. Our inquiry has showed that maintenance of watercourses is one of the major issues of
public concern. Too often, local people—who are the ones closest to the problem, and with
most at risk—are frozen out of the decision-making process about watercourse
maintenance. Given the enormous level of interest, we believe it is appropriate that local
people have to be involved, and consulted, in the formulation of decisions about
watercourse and river maintenance. The Agency, and local authorities, must open up
dialogue with members of the public, through appropriate local fora, to ensure that
they are part of this process.
This would at least ensure that local people have opportunity
to discuss their concerns with Agency, or other, staff, and that public expectations are
managed appropriately.

81. Once decisions have been made, the Agency should make clear, via its website or
other means, the maintenance programme for all its watercourses—even if this, in
some cases, is minimal—including the risk assessment which the Agency has made in
deciding its approach to maintenance of a particular watercourse. The future schedule
of maintenance should be announced whenever possible.

82. The Government should ask the Environment Agency and Natural England to agree
on how to resolve any conflict between effective drainage for flood defence purposes
and the preservation of watercourses as important wildlife habitats, and publish the

83. The Government should re-examine the money available for the maintenance of
watercourses and produce a clear analysis, by the end of 2008, of the balance between
maintenance and capital spend, bearing in mind the National Audit Office’s
conclusions, the scepticism of the public that not enough maintenance is being done,
and the views of the Environment Agenc


Link to original pages  Prof. Knight     and  EFRA Committee