The Continuing Environmental Pollution within the Jubilee River.
This is a pollution issue relevant to the Jubilee River that carries a
recognized Health and Safety issue and causes a local amenity loss to residents
of west Datchet in Berkshire that can easily be resolved.
An Algal bloom occurs within the Jubilee River each year to a greater or
lesser degree brought about by climate conditions together with the design and
construction of the Jubilee River.
The Algal bloom has occurred over the last six summers for a number of months
generally being continuously present between May and October.
The cause of the localized Algae accumulation is due to the design of the
safety booms set upstream of each weir. The present design prevents the free
natural downstream flow of Algae to disperse into the River Thames. This
occurrence has been photographically recorded on an annual basis.
The weir booms contain the Algae which results in large expansive mats
forming that are being compacted up to a thickness of 225mm (9") and extending
at times up to 100 meters upstream of the booms.
The Algal mat being present over many months allows litter and debris from
Slough and the M4 motorway to accumulate together with rotting animal carcasses
and other detritus to be present throughout each summer.
The Environment Agency Website states that the Jubilee River is an amenity
available to local residents and visitors, with the degree of visual and actual
degradation caused by this pollution, demonstrates that their claim is not
viable or acceptable.
Wildlife, especially bird and duck populations have been visibly declining
over recent years and rats have been visible running upon the mat surface.
Having raised the matter with the Environment Agency, their response within
their letter dated 18th August 2010, states "We do not believe there
are any practical options for improving the current situation". Then follows
with, "The removal of the safety booms, which might address some of the build up
of algae, would introduce a health and safety issue at the weirs that the booms
are designed to mitigate, namely, a physical measure to avoid craft and people
being put at risk on the weirs during high flows "
The factual response to the above statements is that the EA have released the
booms in the past and allowed the mat to disperse into the Thames, therefore
there is no conjecture on this point.
There is no navigation upon the Jubilee River or point of craft access at the
boom locations. Furthermore when the algal mat is in place the higher risk to
persons or any craft is being trapped in or drawn under the mat many meters
upstream of the boom, is a far higher risk as no waterside access exists
relative to the high steep embankments. This situation has been recognized by
the EA with their admission that a risk to Health and Safety is presented by the
formation of the algal mat and to that effect they have fixed notices along the
Jubilee River at the locations of algal mat.
Their letter then states that "This algae does not present a human health and
safety hazard as it non toxic. We monitor the physical presence of the build up
of algae to ensure it does not present an unacceptable health and safety issue".
This statement is clearly at odds with their public notices defining that there
is a risk issue. Where this is seen and admitted they do not intend to take
action but hope that it mitigates over time. According to a qualified biologist,
this will not happen.
The EA do not state what action they would take if the level reached
"unacceptable" which it clearly did this year where no physical action to clear
the pollution was taken ,only to put up notices.
The resolution of this problem caused by the current design of the safety
boom would be to replace them with a different design not reliant on total
surface obstruction, However, within para4 of the EA letter they had
investigated other methods of algae control and refer to cost effectiveness,
therefore, is this the real reason that they intend to take no action?.
It is therefore unacceptable that local residents have this blight imposed on
us by the recalcitrance of the EA to properly resolve a problem of their own
making within our locality and in other upstream communities, in essence for
perpetuity every summer.
The EA have recently received world acclamation and a very large sum of money
for their efforts in cleaning the River Thames, this is rightfully recognized,
However, in the overall view this one albeit small issue does exist and is not
pleasant for residents and visitors to Datchet and Eton to be faced with this
annual event which will be visible to Olympics’ visitors in 2012 at each weir
location, especially adjacent to the rowing venue and from the M4 Motorway.
In view of the fact that the EA have received this windfall sum there should
no be no cost barrier or excuse in furnishing the simple solution to this
problem. We residents await a response from the EA and the return of our
rightful amenity which we have paid for in income and council tax.
Ian Thompson - Datchet Resident.
The Jubilee River at Eton Road