Redwood seeks action from DEFRA on flooding in Wokingham

John Redwood has today written to Hilary Benn about how little has happened on the ground to improve the flood defences in Wokingham constituency.

In his letter Mr Redwood states: ‘Many of my constituents are concerned that two few lessons have been learned since July, and that their homes and businesses are as much at risk now as they were before the summer floods’.

He added: ‘Although Sir Michael Pitt’s flood review has touched on a number of interesting areas, I fear it is becoming bogged down in detail and the fine words will not be matched by appropriate action’.

In his letter Mr Redwood highlights three areas where responsibility for flood protection has still not been resolved between the different agencies, more than eight months after the July floods. The first of these is the maintenance and upkeep of the flood defences around the river Loddon, in particular the Maiden Erlegh Lake brook. Thames Water and Wokingham Borough Council both deny responsibility for the brook’s maintenance, and over the winter months residents were forced to clear out the ditches themselves to avoid further flooding.

Mr Redwood goes on to describe similar and potentially damaging indecision over responsibility for maintaining the Emm Brook’s defences. Wokingham Borough Council has attributed responsibility to the Environment Agency, while the Environment Agency maintains it is within the local authority’s remit. Although the Environment Agency has recommended the culverts be cleared on a regular basis, at present there is no indication that anyone is doing so. Meanwhile, residents continue to fear a repeat of last summer.

Finally the letter describes the difficulties encountered by the residents of Luckley Wood. Here flood damage was caused and exacerbated by several factors, all of which are the responsibility of different agencies. Surface water drainage is believed to have been obstructed by inadequate culvert capacity and ditch maintenance, while the flood water also became contaminated by the nearby sewerage facility. The facility is managed by Thames Water, but the flood management of Luckley Wood more generally is still unresolved. More than half a year after the floods, Thames Water can only assure residents that it is still, in their words, liaising with other parties (WBC and Railtrack) ‘to understand drainage issues in Luckley Wood’.

Mr Redwood therefore asks Mr Benn that DEFRA helps to move things along in these three areas, where stalemate between the responsible authorities so long after the floods is simply unacceptable.