1 May 2020: Brief report to Datchet, Horton and Wraysbury Parish Councils.
River Thames Scheme – RBWM funding shortfall and associated local land drainage issues
RTS Partnership Funding. RBWM recently revealed a £43m unresolved RTS Partnership funding shortfall (see RBWM Press Release dated 30/3/2020).
The closing statement in my previous report dated 3/4/2020 was as follows:
On 1/4/2020 I was involved in a 90 minute TRFCC teleconference when it became apparent that I had not been included in discussions on RTS partnership funding details. Worse still – despite being the appointed representative on the TRFCC – and asking repeatedly – I had been kept in the dark. My understanding of the current situation is that WITHOUT ADDITIONAL FUNDING – THE DATCHET, HORTON AND WRAYSBURY SECTION OF THE RIVER THAMES SCHEME WILL NOT BE PROGRESSED.
Apparently the current position is that RBWM is seeking Departmental support and/or approval for a method of fundraising.
Local land drainage issues
The Environment Agency is responsible for main river issues. As designated Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA) RBWM is responsible for ‘ordinary’ watercourses and some other sources of flooding. Due to CV19 – the RBWM Flood Liaison Meeting (scheduled for 29/4/2020) was cancelled. The good news is that the weir failure at Wraysbury Station (reported in September 2018) was fixed in July 2019 but……..
The bad news: The channel blockage and fencing at Feathers Lane was reported to RBWM in April 2019. One year later and recent inspection revealed that the original problems have not been fixed and the channel is being steadily filled with rubble. There is a more detailed report available (dated 15/4/2020). I have requested and am awaiting copies of enforcement notices. The Splash (The Green, Wraysbury) is at very low level and stagnant due to lack of upstream maintenance. Identified restrictions have not been cleared by the riparian owners. There are similar watercourse maintenance issues East of Bells Lane, Horton. Rather than wait until we have problems I believe RBWM needs to create and publish a procedure for the systematic inspection and maintenance of the local land drainage infrastructure.
April 2019 – Feathers Lane April 2020 – Feathers Lane
National land drainage issues. I have revealed the lack of local infrastructure maintenance and ineffective LLFA to the National Flood Forum. Apparently we are not alone. The NFF is currently considering what is a huge and contentious topic and some of the elements of concern are listed below:
- Who is responsible for what?
- What do maintenance obligations mean, in reality?
- How can management be enforced?
- What happens when an organisation states that it is no longer responsible for maintenance, if anything?
- How does the law apply in urban areas where culverts, or other assets, collapse and what often happens in reality?
- Are there any voluntary approaches and do they work?
- Given that this area is governed largely by case law rather than statute, what needs to change and what can we do to bring it about?
In conclusion – I will continue to push for RTS Channel 1 to be both properly funded and to remain within the RTS project. As for local watercourses – my objective is to ensure that the LLFA (as the flood risk management authority) fulfils their duties under the Flood and Water Management Act 2010.
You will find an informative Surrey CC maintenance document here: https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/104184/Good-Practice-for-Watercourse-Maintenance-.pdf
Report to Paul Cobbing – National Flood Forum
From Ewan Larcombe firstname.lastname@example.org
LLFA neglect of ordinary watercourse maintenance – Wraysbury, Berkshire
The location and route of the Wraysbury Drain is marked in red on the map below.
INSERT MAP HERE
Background: The Wraysbury Drain is over two miles of very ancient and legally protected watercourse that is an important part of the local network of land drainage infrastructure within a very level landscape. Starting near Wraysbury Railway Station the channel takes a steadily curving route downstream running generally parallel to Station Road, the High Street and Staines Road and finishing in Hythe End. The channel is designated ‘ordinary watercourse’ but has dimensional cross-sections specified by Enclosure Act legislation over 200 years ago.
Changes – starting in the 1980’s -the area between Douglas Lane, Station Road and the railway line was quarried for gravel and the channels entirely removed. After ignoring warnings the railway bridge collapsed in 1988. Upon completion of partial backfilling the local drainage channels were reinstated on different routes. It became necessary to install a weir in order to ‘drive’ (i.e. provide sufficient head of water) the now relocated Wraysbury Drain. The original stoplog weir was then replaced with an adjustable metal weir in about 2006. There are images of the two weirs available.
The current situation: Despite expenditure of at least £125,000 and the recent best efforts of local volunteers the Wraysbury Drain is still not flowing properly. The failed weir at Wraysbury Station was identified as a major problem and reported in September 2018. After a long list of reasons why maintenance works could not be started the weir was eventually repaired in mid-July 2019. The channel flowed well until January 2020 but is now about to go dry again.
The upstream channel is blocked by fallen trees. There is also gravel at both sides of and beneath the bridge at the entrance to the Dive Centre in Station Road. The gravel needs to be cleared. The Diving Centre Bridge design/construction shortcoming allows vehicles to displace the gravel into the channel. The bridge needs fixing otherwise the problem will continue.
From the Dive Centre Bridge upstream to the junction near the weir – flow is restricted by thirty years of tree growth and fallen trees. This new section of channel was created along a different route after the Wraysbury Station Railway Bridge collapse in 1988. This length of the Wraysbury Drain has not been maintained for 30 years. Apart from the cost there are issues relating to access and/or responsibility!
At Feather’s Lane the channel is now entirely blocked, having been filled to ground level with rubble and fenced over and the channel has also been culverted without permission.
In my opinion the issues remain unresolved due to RBWM reluctance to take enforcement action against obstructive and inconsiderate landowners.
Trees at Station Road