MP Steve Barclay has called on the Environment Agency to increase its dredging of the Old Bedford River and demonstrate that the lessons of the Somerset floods are being applied in the Fens.
At present the Environment Agency are dredging some parts of the Old Bedford River but not all the areas recommended by local Internal Drainage Boards.
This has the effect of increasing the amount of water on the Ouse Washes, which leads to the business-critical A1101 through Welney being closed for more days than would be necessary if more extensive drainage was taking place.
Mr Barclay said: “We have been fortunate locally to not suffer from the extensive flooding inflicted on so many areas of Somerset. Whilst the Environment Agency has disputed the extent to which more extensive dredging could have avoided the widespread flooding in the West Country it is clear from the intervention of the Prime Minister yesterday that dredging was a factor and this is reflected in the future work programme of the Environment Agency in that area. The Environment Agency have said that in Somerset they are increasing their dredging activity once the current water levels have receded, and we should not wait for flooding before changing our own programme locally.”
“In the Fens we are lucky to have genuine experts in our Internal Drainage Boards who do a first class job. I am keen to ensure their voice is heard and where they have identified a need for dredging the Authorities act on it. That is why I am today calling for the Old Bedford River to be more extensively dredged, which will reduce pressure on the Ouse Washes and in turn the number of the days the A1101 through Welney is closed.”