Flood risk fears grow along river

The River Welland is looking particularly beautiful at the moment, but there are concerns about flood risk.
The River Welland is looking particularly beautiful at the moment, but there are concerns about flood risk.
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Overhanging trees and reeds growing in the middle of the River Welland may look beautiful, but they could pose a serious flood risk.

That is the fear that has prompted a call for the Environment Agency to do some “serious dredging”.

The Free Press was contacted by a reader last week, who was concerned about the state of the river and, by coincidence, the matter was brought up by Coun Bryan Alcock at Wednesday’s meeting of South Holland District Council.

Coun Alcock said: “The river between Spalding and Crowland is in need of some serious dredging. It may look beautiful to look at and be environmentally friendly but the river is an artery that goes into the sea and if the flow is slowed down that could put us at risk of flooding.

“We don’t want a repeat of what happened in Somerset. I think we should write to the Environment Agency expressing concern.”

Ian Canham, chief executive of Broadgate Homes which runs water taxis and a narrow boat on the River Welland, shared the concerns.

He said: “We helped clear the river before East Midlands in Bloom judges visited Spalding because rubbish is getting trapped because the river isn’t being cleared.

“Our narrow boat goes as far as Peakirk and reeds are growing in clumps in the middle, which is a bit inconvenient. But what is more worrying is what happens if the flow is slowed down and we get heavy rain.

“There’s a potential flood risk here. There have been occasions were we have had to cancel the service because the river level was so high the boats couldn’t get through the bridges.

“The river does look beautiful, but it is all very concerning.”

In February there were fears water levels were “creeping up to disaster” in Swineshead following claims the South Forty Foot Drain had not been dredged for more than 50 years.

Farmer Nicholas Watts said: “People in the Fens are pumping into the drain but it is lined with reeds and isn’t taking the amount of water it was designed to.”

As a result, an emergency meeting took place between Lincolnshire Council Council, the Environment Agency and the Internal Drainage Board.

The Environment Agency claimed work along the waterways to reduce flood risk was ongoing.

Yesterday, a spokesman said: “We cut weeds through Spalding in June and will do so again in August/September. From A16 road bridge to Thorney Lock in June. We will be starting around Crowland next week going from Deeping to Spalding, which will take about four weeks.”