Request explanation of Marlow Flood Alleviation Scheme and the failure to maintain Bisham Brook

Mike Post made this Freedom of Information request to Environment Agency

This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

The request was partially successful.

FAO Sarah Hale
Team Leader Marlow Flood Alleviation Project
Environment Agency

Dear Sarah

Please forgive me for using the FOI route to contact you but I was not provided with your contact details at last week’s Environment Agency (EA) Marlow Flood Alleviation presentation and the FOI route seems to work.

It was a pleasure to meet you. There are several things that continue to concern me as a lay person.

1. Following the 2003 flood event, I provided the EA with a CD of the timed and dated photographs that I had taken during that event including aerial photographs. One of the photographs was taken of Marlow weir from Marlow bridge at 14:27 on 5 January 2003. It shows that the weir was not drowned. Surely therefore, any obstruction to flood flows below Marlow weir, such as the EA’s flood wall building, will cause flooding to be worse elsewhere below the weir such as the Compleat Angler hotel and the riparian houses along Quarry Wood Road? I therefore do not understand why there is no compensation area provided in the EA’s flood alleviation scheme for the works to protect properties downstream of the weir as well as above the weir and would appreciate an explanation.

2. Above the weir, the planned compensation area is to be excavated in gravel which in the winter is saturated by groundwater and which must therefore already contain in the ground a substantial proportion of water by the time the flood plain is flooded.. Do the assumptions on which the EA’s scheme is based take into account that the area to be excavated is, because of the porosity of the gravel, before flood plain flooding, perhaps 30% to 40% by volume water?

3. On 17 June 2005, the present Prime Minister, the Rt Hon. Theresa May MP, opened a new footpath created by the RBWM to provide a safe crossing to Bisham woods under the A404, Marlow bypass. Mrs May had supported the campaign to replace the increasingly lethal pedestrian crossing of the road at grade. One of the obstacles put in the way of the creation of the new path was the EA’s requirement to raise the proposed new footbridge substantially above the banks of Bisham Brook (which is a designated Main River). I pointed out at the time that the Brook was obstructed by numerous fallen trees and vegetation and unless the Brook was properly maintained and the obstacles to free flow were removed, the raising of the new bridge above the banks would be a waste of money. The raised bridge was installed. Bisham Brook is still obstructed. The fallen trees have never been moved. The overgrown vegetation has not been removed. I have tried to include below some snaps that I took today within 200 metres of the raised bridge to illustrate my point but they will not paste into this document.

What is the point of spending millions of pounds on computer modelling and flood defences if the basics of good flood-protection housekeeping are neglected such that a Main River which drains Bisham Village is neglected for many years? I will take the liberty of copying this letter to Mrs May.

Yours sincerely

Mike Post

Bisham Brook new footpath raised bridge installed 2005 to avoid obstructing flood flows

Bisham Brook 10 Sep 2016 (Main River) still obstructed 11 years later

NB These snaps are all different choke points taken within 200 metres of the 2005 raised bridge on 10 September 2016.

Enquiries, Unit, Environment Agency

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WT Enquiries, Environment Agency

Dear Mr Post,

It was nice meeting you at the Marlow Scheme drop in session. I hope that the information I provide below will answer your questions. The information below is the same that we provided to Theresa May's office, so you may have already received that reply.

The Bisham Brook has been a source of flooding, particularly when levels in the River Thames are high, and we have to take this into consideration. For instance, at a recent Parish meeting we discussed the use of temporary defences to reduce flood risk to properties that have previously experienced flooding from the Bisham Brook. Working in partnership with Bisham parish council we will have a plan for this in place before the winter.

We also ensured the footbridge referred to was raised to a suitable height so that it would not restrict flow during a flood. Although we do have powers to carry out maintenance, the relevant riparian owners are responsible for keeping the brook clear. We only use our powers in this respect as a last resort because of the resource implications. We also need riparian owners to take their roles and responsibilities seriously in regards to managing flood risk in their community. Guidance is provided in our Living on the Edge booklet:

You also enquired about the effectiveness of the Marlow Flood Alleviation Scheme’s proposed compensatory flood storage area. We undertook a detailed flood risk assessment to examine the scheme’s impact on flood risk to the surrounding areas. This included assessment of the compensatory storage area. We took the natural ground conditions of the area into account when designing the scheme, so our plans also allow for the fact that the compensatory storage area is predominately gravel.

If you have any further questions I would be happy to answer them via email at [email address]

This email has been sent on behalf of Sarah Hale.

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