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The Jubilee River story (0948z6)
Northern Powerhouse disappearing
under flood water!
Maintenance of national land drainage
Yet another reason to leave the EU?
It's only two weeks since the Environment Agency
'A Country more resilient'
Press Release but here we go again.
Two years ago we flooded here (on the River
Thames) twice in four weeks. Now with 'unprecedented rainfall' (yet
again), record river levels and extensive flooding in the North I have published
an article below that I wrote in October 2015 for our local village magazine -
The Environment Agency is happy to construct new
parallel channels and to raise flood banks and barriers. Yet they
refuse to maintain or improve the 'within banks' conveyance capacity of the
existing designated main river system.
Unfortunately flooding is just
the symptom of a problem that requires a political solution. The
maintenance of the national land drainage infrastructure is neglected and in my
opinion the Environment Agency has failed this country for twenty years.
It's time to get our act
Flood Re and the River Thames Scheme
The delayed ‘Flood Re’ insurance scheme (a temporary fix) is on the move
again and likely to become effective in April 2016. With the legislation
(actually regulations) currently in the House of Lords the plan is to cap
domestic household flood insurance on the basis of Council Tax banding.
Individual insurance companies will contribute towards a central managed
fund of reserves that can be used in exceptional circumstances.
Although still short of money the Environment Agency is moving forwards
with their £302m (@ 2009 prices) River Thames Scheme i.e. three new
channels, one widened channel and some weir improvements. Due for completion
in 2025 I have no doubt that this will be a £1bn project. Worse still this
is yet another scheme that fails to incorporate a catchment wide
multi-agency solution. River Thames upstream flood plain and in-stream
development is accelerating – with over 100 homes recently approved at
Taplow, new flood defences in Oxfordshire and still more Archimedean Screws
I do have serious concerns about the new channels and in particular I
have warned the Environment Agency that (on completion of the new scheme) if
they are lucky they will only flood Staines – but if they are unlucky they
will flood London. The Thames Barrier is already being used (actually
misused is a more accurate term) to maintain fluvial capacity within the
The Environment Agency has made changes to fine tune their Jubilee River
Operating Procedure and to their web based hydrograph displays but here we
are now left with a significant dilemma. Should we take the ‘I’m all right
Jack’ attitude (like the majority of Maidenhead, Windsor and Eton residents
and Councillors did and still do) and support the project? Even if the
proposed River Thames Scheme channel really does reduce the probability of
flooding here (and by here I mean upstream of Bell Weir) …..do we then
knowingly ignore any consequential downstream impacts?
After the 2003 flood event I was labelled ‘vexatious complainant’ by the
Environment Agency! Well not any more - because the digital revolution has
empowered me to gather, analyse, link and publish the evidence. The world
class, award winning Jubilee River is a constant source of embarrassment to
the EA. The channel is sub-standard in concept, design and construction and
consequently constantly exposes the EA lack of engineering capability.
I have already prepared and published a
draft Statement of Case in anticipation of a River Thames Scheme
planning inquiry in 2018. Unfortunately flooding is just the symptom of a
problem that requires a political solution.
Finally I had a visit from Titia Ketelaar (the London correspondent for a
Dutch Newspaper) who was disbelieving when I stated that we are well above
sea level here. She said ‘We have much land below sea level in Holland that
never, ever floods. Why aren’t you protesting on the streets?’ My answer was
as always – prompt, precise, brief and unprintable.