Environment, Food and Rural Affairs CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by Ewan Larcombe, Leader of the National Flood Prevention Party

Omission of Dredging

1. My main concern is about lack of conveyance capacity in watercourses caused by a combination of legitimate structural impediments and lack of maintenance.

2. We the human population have no control over the timing, volume or geographical distribution of precipitation and we tend complain about too much or too little rain and even about “the wrong type of snow”.

3. But once the precipitation process is complete (ie the water has landed as either a liquid or a solid) we do have the some degree of control over the consequences.

4. Irrespective of climate change, the Government has a duty to protect its citizens.

5. In “The Natural Choice”—the words flood, flooded, floods, flooding and floodplains are used on 42 occasions and the word energy is used on 42 occasions.

6. In contrast the words dredging and hydropower are not used at all.

7. Quote: (1.20) Maintaining nature’s capacity to provide the functions upon which we rely is often cheaper than having to replace them by investing in heavy infrastructure or technical solutions.

8. Defra talk about “working with natural processes” but the natural function of rivers as the primary means of flood defence has been neglected in practice.

9. In fact the rivers no longer behave in a natural manner and are controlled by the Environment Agency. Thames dredging has been abandoned for a variety of reasons including “too costly”, “no disposal facilities”, “uneconomic” and “environmentally unfriendly”, and conveyance capacity is ever-decreasing.

10. Around here (Windsor) the new £110 million Jubilee River flood alleviation project fell apart in 2003 leading to £5 million in repair costs and a £2.75 million out-of-court settlement for sub-standard design and construction.

11. The £300 million scheme now on the table has a new name—the Lower Thames Flood Risk Management Strategy—but in my opinion will suffer the same problems as the Jubilee River ie expensive, disruptive, ineffective and poor value for money.

12. To make matters worse, the local council is now promoting the installation of a series of Archimedean Screw installations at the Thames weirs.

13. believe that the Environment Agency has a duty to protect people from flooding—by that I mean taking actions that increase watercourse conveyance capacity and thus reduce the probability of flooding.

14. Quote: (2.82) We want to provide opportunities for communities to shape and manage their environment to reduce their exposure to flood risk.

15. I believe that dredging the Thames is down to the Environment agency and beyond the ability of individual communities.

21 June 2011

Prepared 16th July 2012