River Avon should be dredged says mayor

News – July 21, 2008

The Mayor of Evesham in the UK Alan Booth this week led calls for the River Avon to be dredged through the town to prevent a repetition of the disastrous floods which caused devastation to homes and businesses last year.

Local press reports said that more than 120 people living in the Wychavon area have still not been able to return to their homes, with 16 of them still being forced to live in caravans, according to figures released by the district council.

Questioned about dredging, Environment Agency spokeswoman Sharon Robinson said: “We routinely consider dredging as a method of reducing flood risk and carry out such work where we can demonstrate that it is technically sound, economically viable, environmentally acceptable and sustainable.”

“We spend around £3 million per year on dredging in England and Wales and a further £8 million on aquatic weed removal to enable rivers to flow freely in their natural channels. Our experience is that dredging is only effective in the relatively few locations where we can satisfy the ‘tests’ outlined above.”

The Avon was last dredged in 1989 and critics of the Environment Agency claim that as well as the detritus from last year’s floods and another major flood in 1998, parts of the river have been regularly used as a rubbish tip, reducing the size of the channels.

Cllr Booth said: “This statement is all well and good in areas where development has not taken place on flood plains. The constant building on these plains means the surplus water will find another route which inevitably means flooding of homes and businesses. I appreciate the argument regarding silt build-up but the river is already silted up and there is debris still on the river bed from 1998.”