Flood risk couple fined

PUBLISHED: 12:30 24 January 2008 | UPDATED: 10:01 04 May 2010

AN Ely couple who tampered with a stream to extend their garden on a new housing estate have been left with a bill of more than £11,000. Carl Kavanagh and Hannah Davey created a potential flood risk when they put a pipe in the stream and restricted its op

AN Ely couple who tampered with a stream to extend their garden on a new housing estate have been left with a bill of more than £11,000.

Carl Kavanagh and Hannah Davey created a potential flood risk when they put a pipe in the stream and restricted its opening with a sandbag.

Their actions led to the pair being prosecuted by the Environment Agency at Ely Magistrates Court.

The court heard that an agency flood risk officer discovered the culvert while he was inspecting a ditch at the back of the homes in Chelmer Way.

A pipe had been laid along its entire length and, as it passed through the couple's garden, had been inserted into the end of a larger existing culvert laid when the estate was built to allow a walkway to pass over the water. Kavanagh and Davey had planted trees over the culvert and the roots, if left, would have found their way through a gap round the sandbag causing the culvert to block, the agency feared.

Magistrates were told the agency was generally opposed to culverting watercourses because of the increased risk of flooding downstream and difficulty in maintenance.

A notice was served on the couple giving them 14 days to remove the culvert but they failed to do so. They also failed to reply to letters inviting them to attend an interview, the court heard.

Magistrates were told that a notice had also been served on Kavanagh in 2006 for installing a similar culvert and failing to remove it within a specified time. It was eventually removed and he was sent a formal warning letter.

In response to the warning, he said he had applied for permission for the culvert but received no reply within two months. He claimed under the Land Drainage Act he had the right to assume the work had consent.

But there was no record of an application or an application fee, the court heard.

When he was sent an application form and told detailed drawings would be required, he failed to respond.

Kavanagh and Davey denied failing to comply with a notice served on May 3, 2007 under the Land Drainage Act.

They were fined £125 each plus a £15 victim's surcharge and order to pay a total of £11,000 costs to the Environment Agency.

After the hearing, investigating officer Gary Morgan said: "One of our goals is to reduce the risk of flooding to people and property whilst conserving and enhancing the natural environment.

"Our preferred approach is through negotiation and persuasion, but this case demonstrates our resolve to achieve our goals by using the legal process when it becomes necessary.

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