Share

Clear spells

Tue

26°C | 15°C

Mostly sunny

Wed

25°C | 16°C

Sunny

Thu

27°C | 15°C

Home   Maidstone   News   Article

More money needed to dredge rivers if repeat of floods devastation is to be avoided in Maidstone and Yalding

17 June 2014
by Paul Francis
More money must be found to dredge rivers if a repeat of the devastation caused by recent floods is to be avoided, according to a group of MPs.
 
The government has been urged to ensure that where more dredging is required, it must make a long-term commitment to pay for it.
 
Several parts of Kent, notably Yalding and Maidstone, were badly affected by the floods and questions were raised about the failure to dredge rivers like The Medway.
 
High river levels in Maidstone

High river levels in Maidstone

 
Now MPs on a select committee say that Defra must increase funding for maintenance, which “is at a bare minimum.”
 
On dredging, the report states: “Where dredging is appropriate, the benefits need to be sustained through routine maintenance.
 
"Too often, work is neglected until a need is created for costly one-off capital investment.”
 
However, the MPs say that dredging alone is not enough and should not be seen as “an all-purpose solution.”
 
The committee said it was concerned to hear from the Environment Agency that when the overall funding for maintenance went down from £170m in 2012/13 to £147m in 2013/14 “the bits that gets squeezed is conveyance work: that is, regular clearing, dredging and keeping rivers clear.”
 
Flooding after heavy rainfall in Maidstone

Flooding after heavy rainfall in Maidstone

Flood-hit Yalding was among the worst affected

Flood-hit Yalding was among the worst affected

 
The report concludes: “While we recognise the need to balance competing demands on a finite budget, the avoidance of flood events that devastate communities should, as far as possible, take priority over cost-cutting.”
 
Anne McIntosh, chairman of the committee, said: “Regular work to dredge and keep rivers clear can be an essential flood prevention measure, yet this is exactly what gets squeezed out when budgets are tight.
 
"The Government needs to recognise the importance of regular maintenance work and put it on an equal footing with building new defences.”
 
On a visit to Kent earlier this year to see flood hit areas, chief secretary to the treasury Danny Alexander said money would be available for flood defence works.
 
Heavy rain over Christmas caused wide spread flooding in and around the Maidstone area

Heavy rain over Christmas caused wide spread flooding in and around the Maidstone area

Yalding was one of the areas of Kent hit hard by floods

Yalding was one of the areas of Kent hit hard by floods

 
But the Environment Agency said at the time that dredging rivers around Yalding would not have made much difference to the chaos caused by the wet weather.
 
Maidstone county councillor Rob Bird, who lives in Yalding, said: “There is more scope for dredging.
 
"There is a bottleneck in The Medway and I will be pleased if something does come out of this. Select committee reports do often look good on paper but are often ignored.”
 

The Environment Agency said: “We review our maintenance programme to make sure we spend taxpayers’ money where it is most effective, and are working with Defra on several pilot projects aimed at making it easier for farmers and landowners to undertake watercourse maintenance."

Click here for more news from Maidstone.

Click here for more news from around the county.

Comments 

Forgotten Password?

Forgotten Username?

Don't have an account? Please Register first!

The KM Group does not moderate comments.
Please click here for our house rules.

Thank you. Your comment has been received and will appear on the site shortly.

 

Terms of Comments
We do not actively moderate, monitor or edit contributions to the reader comments but we may intervene and take such action as we think necessary, please click here for our house rules.. If you have any concerns over the contents on our site, please either register those concerns using the report abuse button, contact us here, email multimediadesk@thekmgroup.co.uk or call 01634 227989.