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The River Thames Scheme - Draft Statement of Case

The Public Inquiry examining the River Thames Scheme (Datchet to Teddington) planning application will probably take place in 2018 but I have no doubt that the EA (and the Government) will do their best to avoid such an event.

In anticipation I have raised a Draft Statement of Case as detailed below.

This SoC is being updated as new issues become apparent.

Draft Statement of Case @ 30th May 2015 (last updated 30/12/2017)

From Ewan Larcombe, 67 Lawn Close, Datchet SL3 9LA

E-mail Tel. 01753 544302

Ref Planning Application Number ……………….and subsequent Inquiry

The River Thames Scheme (Datchet to Teddington) – i.e. The Environment Agency proposal for three new channels, one widened channel and associated river works intended to reduce the risk of fluvial flooding downstream of Windsor – total cost £302m (2009) and now £478m (2016)


Born in 1950 I lived in Wraysbury (as did my parents and grandparents before me) until 1970. As the eldest of seven children I am pleased to say that many of my relatives still live there. After short periods of living in Slough and Langley I moved with my family to Datchet in 1977.

I participated in the Horton Drain (Wraysbury) re-grading project in the early 1980’s and submitted evidence on the Wraysbury Station railway bridge collapse in the late 1980s.

On behalf of Datchet Parish Council I appeared at the six week Maidenhead Windsor and Eton Flood Alleviation Scheme Public Inquiry at Reading in 1992. I have detailed knowledge of Grundon’s Pit issues on Staines Road, Wraysbury, the Wraysbury Station railway bridge collapse (1988) and the 2006 Queen Mother Reservoir pipe failure in Datchet. I have knowledge of the unauthorised disposal of 4,000 tonnes of food waste at Kingsmead pit in Horton. With a B.Sc. in Manufacturing Technology I am a long-serving member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (I.Eng MIET) and also the Chartered Management Institute. I joined the British Hydrological Society in 2014.

I am on both Datchet and Wraysbury Parish Councils.

In my opinion flooding is only the symptom of a problem.........

I suspect that the Environment Agency and their contrac6tors never actually read 1992 MWEFAS Planning Inquiry evidence or the Inspector's Report before they commenced construction.  When the project exhibited capacity issues and signs of structural failure in early 2003 the authorities closed ranks and denied that there were significant problems.  While the EA claimed that I was a 'vexatious complainant' (and my local Councillors undermined my attempts to raise the issues) the EA was actually suing the designers for sub-standard design and construction.

In my opinion the river Thames Scheme (Datchet to Teddington) is just history repeating itself - and with additional unanticipated consequences.

I intend to present evidence at the River Thames Scheme Inquiry (but maybe not in this order) as follows:

On matters specifically related to MWEFAS, Jubilee River, the River Thames and the River Thames Scheme plus additional details on other flood defence and land drainage infrastructure failure……….

  • I will firstly give appropriate credit to the late JD Perret and M Reade.
  • I will submit evidence in respect of the 1895 and 1947 flood events.
  • I will produce the evidence supporting my assertion that the River Thames Scheme is 'history repeating itself'.
  • I will identify specific failings in the MWEFAS consultation, planning, 1992 Inquiry and ministerial approval processes.  I will submit evidence to demonstrate that RBWM did not consult Datchet.
  • I will explain why Horton and Wraysbury did not make submissions to the 1992 Inquiry.
  • I will explain why Datchet was eventually included in the pre-Inquiry process after the channel was diverted around Eton College land.

  • I will identify the assurances given by experts at the 1992 Inquiry that have not been met, with particular reference to the protection of 200 homes in Datchet.
  • I will submit evidence to demonstrate that the EA constructed an 'algae production system' after submitting evidence from 'experts' that algae would not be a problem. This will apply to the proposed RTS.
  • I will demonstrate how problems predicted at the 1992 Inquiry were dismissed by ‘the experts.’
  • I will explain how important matters such as dredging were not even considered at the 1992 Inquiry.
  • I will highlight JR sub-standard design, construction and conveyance capacity issues.
  • I will show that MWEFAS hydraulic model (capacity) issues identified by the assessor in 1992 were repeatedly ignored.
  • I will show how MWEFAS design changes were considered and/or implemented after the receipt of Ministerial approval.
  • I will refer to the JR operational procedure, failure to work in accordance with the procedure and consequential down stream effects that are not even acknowledged as fact let alone understood.
  • I will detail significant, repeated and ongoing JR structural failures, maintenance issues, stage/discharge issues, water level and flow measurement, recording and hydrograph presentation issues.
  • I will offer examples of poor design in respect of JR access - i.e. footpaths/car parks.
  • I will demonstrate how constructing the proposed RTS channel through the gravel pits in Datchet, Horton and Wraysbury will significantly impact water body interconnectivity and in particular the system inter-relationship, response times and stage levels.
  • I will demonstrate how internal and external communications failings combined with lack of oversight, scrutiny and accountability has resulted in significant waste.
  • I will assert that at every stage (2003 to May 2015) there was a lack of responsibility/accountability.
  • I will give examples of 'reward for failure.'
  • I will submit evidence to prove that the facts about the River Thames 2003 flood event were suppressed.
  • I will state that in 2003 the Minister was either misinformed or 'kept in the dark'.
  • I will submit evidence to demonstrate that after the 2003 flood event even the repairs were sub-standard.
  • I will submit evidence in respect of the £2.75m out-of-court settlement for sub-standard design and construction.
  • I will show that the 2003/4 Clive Onions FRAG inquiry terms of reference were manipulated to exclude important issues.
  • I will submit evidence to show that recommendations tabled by the FRAG after the 2003 flood event have not been implemented particularly in respect of dredging and operational matters.
  • I will demonstrate that the 2003/4 FRAG report was initially published on the web but was then promptly removed.
  • I will submit evidence to show that revised flood mapping issued by the EA as a consequence of promises given at the 1992 Inquiry led to confusion, discontent and houses built too low.
  • I will provide an example of llfa failing to comply with FWMA 2010 (s19)
  • I will show how the FWMA 2010 fails to properly utilise (s19) flood reports.
  • I will demonstrate how flood mapping affects insurance and is still an issue in 2016.
  • I intend to demonstrate how individuals (including EA CEOs) have manipulated the communications channels (by means of suppression, filtering, diluting and censoring of information) consequently disadvantaging stakeholders.
  • I will submit evidence to demonstrate how lack of engineering and management expertise within the EA leads to mistakes and waste.
  • I will assert that ever-changing personnel leads to lack of continuity and is a major reason for sub-optimal project performance.
  • I will submit evidence to demonstrate how (during a rising event) stage changes upstream are significantly magnified by the time they arrive at Datchet, Old Windsor and Wraysbury prior to returning to normal after Staines e.g.. 1 metre, 2.4 metres returning to 1 metre.
  • I will submit evidence to highlight inconsistent standards in respect of planning policy implementation at RBWM.
  • I will demonstrate how RBWM allocates ratepayer funds to RTS without consultation.
  • I will demonstrate how the process (and thus the EA organisation) ‘fails to learn’ and how we are already on course to repeat the mistakes of the past.
  • I will submit evidence to demonstrate that the EA consistently fails the tests for honesty, openness and transparency.
  • I will show how the EA administration 'propaganda machine' promotes and supports disinformation.
  • I will demonstrate how lack of accountability has led to failure of the political process to impose discipline or to promote cultural change within the Environment Agency leading to improved efficiency and effectiveness.
  • I will show how the EA firstly re-designated Critical Ordinary Watercourses as Main River and only a decade later commenced a demaining programme.
  • I will submit evidence to demonstrate the long term neglect of main river maintenance by EA (with particular reference to lack of dredging) leading to increased probability of flooding.
  • I will submit evidence to demonstrate the long term neglect of ordinary watercourse maintenance by llfa's.
  • I will submit evidence in respect of River Thames blocked flood arches.
  • I will submit evidence in respect of River Thames blocked backwaters.
  • I will refer to the dangers of flooding leading to the lateral migration of landfill gas.
  • I will assert that River Thames stage has been raised over time.
  • I will explain that downstream sedimentation is due to upstream neglect.
  • I will explain how parallel channel designs accelerate sedimentation and make a bad situation worse.
  • I will explain how a parallel channel opening into a gravel pit will lead to nutrient and sediment pollution.
  • I will refer to Zebra mussel infestations in water pipes.
  • I will submit evidence on the orchestrated opposition to dredging especially the propaganda.
  • I will show how Thames dredging was terminated to avoid undermining the RTS project justification.
  • I will give evidence on proposed RTS channel proximity to leachate, gassing and contaminated land.
  • I will show how PLP - property level protection changed to property level products.
  • I will show how EA/NFF promoted airbrick covers - are now being removed.
  • I will give evidence on ground water flooding caused by the Jubilee River.
  • I will supply evidence on the lack of groundwater level monitoring and control.
  • I will explain that Datchet Common Brook (designated main river) Wraysbury and Horton Drains are all intersected by the RTS channel and could suffer loss of connectivity.
  • I will show that Wraysbury Drain is almost lost as a watercourse despite significant maintenance expenditure.
  • I will show that the Wraysbury Drain has been culverted without permission.
  • I will show that expenditure on the Wraysbury drain did not cure the lack of water.
  • I will give evidence on the failure to contain flood water within the Jubilee River channel at Black Potts initially creating a flood path into Datchet and then repeated consequential damage.
  • I will show that the 2003 and two 2014 flood events were just 'ordinary' in comparison to 1947 and 1894.
  • I will submit evidence on the historic River Thames multiple bypass channel scheme.
  • I will assert that EA hydraulic models were fundamentally flawed and offer evidence to justify my claim.
  • I will invite the EA to demonstrate that dredging will not improve River Thames discharge.
  • I will present evidence on open watercourse capacity using the essential elements of Manning's formulae.
  • I will show that although the EA claims 'people and properties come first' this is not their practice!
  • I will show how most of the footpaths from Slough weir are substandard in design and construction.
  • I will submit evidence to demonstrate ongoing large scale development on flood plain.
  • I will show how car parks have been lost over time
  • I will demonstrate the relevance and interrelationship between the tributaries and the water bodies.
  • I will refer to the Wraysbury Station Weir
  • I will invite the Planning Inspector to witness first hand the Jubilee River and surroundings.
  • I will refer to the threats from a variety of invasive species.
  • I will refer in detail to the shortcomings of the 'Catchment Based Approach' 
  • I will recommend a Royal Commission on Land Drainage.
  • I will assert that flooding is only the symptom of a problem that requires a politico-economic solution.
  • I will explain that the fundamental problem with the national land drainage infrastructure is that the EA has no legal obligation to maintain or improve the conveyance capacity of designated main rivers.




    Still more to add………….