Floods prompt calls for a Welney workround

Locals want action on massive diversions

flood08:20 Thursday 14th January 2016
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

DOTTY MCLEOD: Drivers are continuing to face diversions of up to 35 miles because of flooding at Welney Wash. The road’s regularly shut following heavy rain. In fact between late-2012 and early-2013 it was closed for around 50 days. Electronic signs now warn drivers on approaching routes when the road is impassable, but progress on any physical alterations to the road like raising it have been slow. The MP for North East Cambridgeshire Steven Barclay will once again raise the issue at a flood summit on Friday. Our reporter Tom Horn is on the Cambridgeshire side of Welney Wash this morning. Tom, is it snowing where you are?
TOM HORN: Good morning Dotty from a misty and pretty freezing Welney Wash. We’ve had a bitter mix of sleet and snow and rain over the last 45 minutes or so since I’ve been here, but it’s just turned to absolute biting cold wind here. I’ve seen swans from the nearby nature reserve fly overhead since I’ve been here as well. I’m just pulled over on the side of the A1101 just before it is flooded. The landscape here Dotty ..
DOTTY MCLEOD: Tom I’m really sorry. I think we’re going to have to leave it there, because the signal in Welney is letting us down a little bit this morning. Apologies for that. Tom though has been speaking to a few drivers on the road this morning. Here’s what one of them told him.
TOM HORN: Where are you on your way to this morning then?
DRIVER: Wisbech.
TOM HORN: Yes. Wisbech. Where have you come from?
DRIVER: Heathrow.
TOM HORN: Heathrow. So you’ve been on the road already a bit this morning.
DRIVER: Yes. Since four this morning.
TOM HORN: So you’re trying to cross Welney Wash just here, but the road ahead of you is closed so you’ve pulled over. Talk me through what’s happened.
DRIVER: Well I don’t know. There’s been nothing on the radio. I’ve obviously got Travel on all the time. It picks up your local station as well, and nothing. No warning. And the sat-nav hasn’t picked it up either which it should do because it’s live. What do I do now?
TOM HORN: Did you notice any of the electronic signs on the way here at all?
DRIVER: None at all. Was there?
TOM HORN: There is one just about near Littleport I think and there’s another just behind us, but that’s right on where we are, isn’t it? So what is it now? A case of diversion? Have you got somewhere to be for a certain time, obviously Wisbech ?
DRIVER: Well I’m alright for time, but just trying to work out another route now I suppose.
DOTTY MCLEOD: We have had reports this morning that some drivers are ignoring the signs and driving along the road regardless. The diversions that are in place, if you’re journeying between Littleport and Wisbech, you either have to divert via Downham Market which is 25 miles or so, or Chatteris which is 35 miles or so. So not an insignificant inconvenience really. But this has been going on for years hasn’t it? Twenty three minutes past eight. Let’s talk to Louise Villis who’s the owner of a children’s party supply store on the Norfolk side of the wash. Morning Louise.
LOUISE VILLIS: Good morning.
DOTTY MCLEOD: So what kind of problems does it cause you when this road is closed?
Continue reading “Floods prompt calls for a Welney workround”

Benefits of Targeted Dredging

dredge09:22 Monday 31st March 2014
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

[A]NDIE HARPER: A major report by the UN into the impact of climate change on humans has been released today, and it comes as dredging begins on the Somerset levels, following severe floods this winter. Many have blamed a lack of dredging for the floods crisis, but the Environment Agency has maintained it would not have prevented it. Only last week the Met Office said we will see more wet and warm winters, thanks to climate change. So is it time that we all sat up and took notice? David Thomas is the Chief Engineer of the Middle Level Commissioners. David, good morning to you.
DAVID THOMAS: Good morning Andie.
ANDIE HARPER: And of course the lack of dredging, or the cutting back of dredging over the years was roundly blamed for the flooding in the Levels this time round. Is just dredging therefore the answer?
Continue reading “Benefits of Targeted Dredging”

Spare a Thought For The Environment Agency

An email received today:

[D]ear all

I thought you should all be aware that the Environment Agency is receiving some rather bad press at present and are being used as a political football.

Having lived by the Thames for my whole life and had dealings with the Environment Agency and its predecessor the Thames Conservancy as a boater and fisherman I can tell you they are one of the most efficient organisations I have ever dealt with. Their problem is that they have had numerous cuts in funding(the last a year ago being a one third cut).

The Drainage Boards which used to dredge the Thames and other rivers were disbanded around 20 years ago. The function but not the funding was handed to the Environment Agency at that time. The subject has been raised at many River User Groups Meetings I have attended over the last 10 years. The response has always been we have the equipment(which they inherited from the Drainage Boards) but not the funding to retain the manpower to do it. It is highly labour intensive!

I suspect the situation is exactly the same in Somerset though I believe the impact of dredging the 3 rivers crossing the Somerset levels would have much more of an impact as they are miniature compared with Old Father Thames!

Here are a few shots taken at my Club in Hampton Court and at Datchet which reflect the scale of the problem.

Yours ever

(images follow)

Continue reading “Spare a Thought For The Environment Agency”

Welney Wash Flooding – New Warning Signs Offer No Respite

welney_wash10:35 Monday 27th January 2014
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

[A]NDIE HARPER: Cambridge and Peterborough appear to be booming. But is it a different story in the Fens? Many of you have been in touch to have your say this morning. Last year there was a summit of local politicians, looking for a long term solution for flooding which closes the road at Welney year after year. Now villagers say the waters are getting higher and lasting for longer. New electronic signs were going to be fitted by Norfolk County Council, but the flooding has even stopped this happening. Karl Rands is Area Highways Manager for the west of Norfolk County Council. Karl, good morning to you.
KARL RANDS: Good morning to you.
ANDIE HARPER: It is a difficult place in many many ways, isn’t it, Welney, because it’s so very much on the borderlands , isn’t it?
KARL RANDS: Indeed, yes it is. It is a difficult location, obviously, because The Wash is there, which does cause residents and drivers a problem when it floods the carriageway.
ANDIE HARPER: And of course we have the two counties meeting, and so there are always issues there. As long as I’ve been doing this programme, and it’s a long time now Karl, around this time of the year we keep telling people that the Wash Road at Welney is closed, and all the usual diversions are in place. Surely to goodness there is something that could be done about it, long term.
Continue reading “Welney Wash Flooding – New Warning Signs Offer No Respite”

It Never Rains But It Pours

doctor_foster17:47 Monday 4th March 2013
Drive BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

[C]HRIS MANN: The Environment Agency is urging the Government to do more to prepare for extreme weather, in the wake of figures showing there was flooding in one day of every five in 2012, but also drought in one day in every four. Lord Smith is warning that Britain needs to prepare and adapt to avoid flooding and drought disrupting daily life. He says better protection is needed for homes and businesses. The report highlights how rivers such as the Ouse, the Tyne and Tone went from their lowest to their highest levels since records began, in the space of just four months. Craig Woolhouse is from the Environment Agency. (TAPE)
CRAIG WOOLHOUSE: Well we saw last year that total contrast between drought in the first three months, when many people had restrictions on their water use, through to over 8,000 homes being flooded through a sequence of flood events in the last nine months of the year, right across England and Wales. So a real contrast, and almost half last year were either drought or flood. So if that’s the future model that we’ve got to think about, then we’ve got to prepare better to cope with those variations in our climate, and be ready to live with that. We can build flood defences to help protect homes and businesses, protect agricultural land, and we can provide storage reservoirs so we’ve got enough water during drought. But I think it’s going to take all of us to shift our thinking to cope with the changing climate over the next ten, twenty, thirty years.
CHRIS MANN: Well the Environment Agency, you in fact, are tasked with preparing us and looking after us when these things happen. As you said there was flooding but there was also drought. Were you taken unawares by what was coming up?
CRAIG WOOLHOUSE: I think everyone has been surprised by the real shift from drought to flood last year. It’s something we haven’t experienced in the last hundred years of record. It has been quite unprecedented, that shift from very low flows in rivers to very high flows, some of the highest on record, some of the lowest on record. So that has been a surprise. I think the floods, we’ve seen 8,000 homes flooded, but we’ve also had the benefit of the 200,000 homes protected through the flood defences we’ve built. (LIVE)
CHRIS MANN: Craig Woolhouse there, from the Environment Agency.

Fish Rescue at Maxey Cut

08:36 Wednesday 28th March 2012
Peterborough Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: Hundreds of fish in Peterborough have been saved thanks to swift action from the Environment Agency. The group say the drought, which has been the worst in 100 years, is reducing river levels by 75%. Now our reporter Kerry Devine put the waders on and went to meet David Hawley from the Environment Agency on the Maxey Cut, just outside Peakirk. Continue reading “Fish Rescue at Maxey Cut”

A14 Collapses Under Load

17:06 Wednesday 16th November 2011
Drive BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

ANDY BURROWS: Let’s talk about the A14 first of all today, because I know that many of you listening to this programme will be on the A14 this afternoon, or this evening as it is. Big problems on the road today, after part of it collapsed. It took place on the inside lane of the eastbound carriageway between junctions 30 and 31. It’s the Girton Interchange. You’ll know it well. It led to delays of up to two hours at rush hour this morning. Mike Wherrett from the Highways Agency spoke to Andy Harper. Continue reading “A14 Collapses Under Load”

Nene Fish Stocks Raised with Nifty Sluice Work

07:20 Tuesday 11th October 2011
Peterborough Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: The River Nene is now home to more fish, after the Environment Agency opened one of the lock gates, to encourage more fish to pass through. As a result there are now more elvers, smelt, sea trout and bream, and roach can be found as well. Johnnie Dee is fishing this morning. Morning sir. (OB)
JOHNNIE DEE: Good morning young Paul. I’m at the Dog in a Doublet sluice, on North Bank Road between Whittlesea and Peterborough. And what a fantastic sight greets me here, because we’ve got this big gantry walkway, going right across the River Nene here. I’m actually going to go up the steps if we can. I’ve got a black gate just to the left of me, which is actually the sluice gate they open up. And it’s 25 feet across. A big black steel beast it is Paul, and about 25 feet deep as well. And this is the thing they open up. I’ve got with me a guy from the Fisheries Team at the Environment Agency, Chris Reeves,. Now when did you start this project Chris? Continue reading “Nene Fish Stocks Raised with Nifty Sluice Work”