Memorandum submitted by Mr. Ewan Larcombe (FW 17)
1. I am a Parish Councillor and these are my personal views.
2. In January 2003 and for the first time since 1947 my village and others downstream were affected by serious flooding from the River Thames and the new £110m Jubilee River flood alleviation scheme. Recommendations (about Thames dredging) from the official report in April 2004 have not been implemented. The river suffers from an ever-reducing capacity due to lack of maintenance, resulting in bed rise thus increasing the probability of flooding.
3. Prevention is cheaper than cure. Efficient and effective drainage reduces the probability of flooding. While the F&WM Bill clarifies the split powers and responsibility for watercourses, there is still no DUTY to maintain them.
4. If my guttering is overflowing water down my house wall - I fix it. If the main road is flooding due to a blocked gulley, then I 'phone my Council and they fix it. Then it gets complicated........
5. In 2004, the Environment Agency consulted on the enmainment of Critical Ordinary watercourses (CoWs)
6. CoWs are ordinary watercourses that present the greatest flood risk and which the EA and their current operating authorities agree are critical because 'they have the potential to put at risk from flooding large numbers of people and property.' (EA Thames Region report T/RFDC/04/03 dated 15/1/2004)
7. The purpose of the enmainment was to clarify and transfer responsibility for those watercourses from the local authority to the EA.
8. In the Thames Region there were about 450 watercourses (total length about 4,000 km transferred from local authorities and re-designated 'Main River'.
9. Since the EA took control of our CoWs and re-designated them as 'Main River', maintenance has been neglected or abandoned.
10. My parish is now bounded and/or bisected by FOUR designated Main rivers (all the responsibility of the Environment Agency) and one important drainage channel (ordinary watercourse) that protects the village centre.
11. In order to minimise the risk of flooding, all drainage (including both ordinary watercourses and Main Rivers) must be properly maintained.
12. The Flood Risk Regulations 2009 state that 'the Environment Agency and each lead local flood authority must consult the following about the proposed content of a flood risk management plan - authorities listed in regulation 36(3) that may be affected by the plan, and the public'.
13. I am not concerned about ordinary watercourse maintenance. If an ordinary watercourse requires maintenance, and the matter is raised with my local Council - it gets done.
14. I am concerned that the EA consistently fails to maintain the designated Main Rivers. Although the EA has 'responsibility' and 'power' it has no 'duty' to maintain them.
15. I am concerned that implementation of the Floods and Water Management Bill will not improve main river maintenance and will thus fail to reduce the probability of flooding.
16. I am concerned as to how the lead local flood authorities are expected to deal with identified Main Rivers flood hazards.
17. I believe that all 'Main Rivers' should be identified as critical infrastructure and have specified minimum conveyance capacities along their length that the EA have a DUTY to preserve.