Geoffrey Woollard Is Entertaining But Check Out The Environment Agency Website

PUBLISHED: 10:09 26 November 2009 | UPDATED: 11:08 04 May 2010

MAY I take this opportunity to thank Geoffrey Woollard for the entertainment he has provided in recent months with his ever more inventive criticisms of the National Trust proposals for the expansion of Wicken Fen over the next 100 years. I am afraid tho

MAY I take this opportunity to thank Geoffrey Woollard for the entertainment he has provided in recent months with his ever more inventive criticisms of the National Trust proposals for the expansion of Wicken Fen over the next 100 years.

I am afraid though that he may be tilting at the wrong windmill. If he were to spare a few minutes on the Environment Agency web site he would find a consultation document called The Great Ouse Tidal River Strategy. The full document is very detailed but contains two main proposals which are rather alarming.

The first deals with the plan to reduce the amount of silt in the river beyond Denver Sluice. This has been building up over the past 50 years and is now at level which is restricting the main river flow. In times past, the channel was dredged but this is not fashionable now because it is expensive and "the channel may silt up again". I used to try a similar excuse to get out of washing my hands as a child but mother would not accept it. The agency hopes to deal with the silt by changing the management of the water controls at Denver and hoping for heavy rain. The other contentious proposal is to allow the level of flood protection offered by the South Level Barrier Bank (that is the bank which stops the water from the Bedford River flowing into the fen) to decline from the present 1 in 120 risk to 1 in 20 over the next 70 years or so. The bank would then be maintained to provide a 1 in 20 risk level. If this plan is adopted, there is likely to be more acres of wild and natural fen in 100 years' time than the National Trust can imagine. In response to last week's letter from Eddie Holden, the drainage system is at the moment much safer than it was in 1947 despite the points I have made above. The council does not need to buy lots of boats just yet!

LES WALTON

Hall Street

Soham


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