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MP backs dredging in Dee to counter flood risks

Published date: 21 January 2014 |
Published by: Romilly Scragg 
Read more articles by Romilly Scragg  Email reporter


 

DREDGING should be used to increase river flow and reduce the risk of flooding, an MP has argued.

Alyn and Deeside MP Mark Tami has added his voice to calls for silt to be dredged from the River Dee.

He said not enough is being done to protect communities and said people need to be reassured the government is not just ‘crossing its fingers’.

Community leaders have complained that river maintenance policy needs changing and that regular dredging of rivers would prevent the majority of floods.

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has argued that ‘lots of work’ takes place in and around rivers to reduce flood risk.

Earlier this month, a spokesman from NRW said: “From maintenance of weirs, culverts and sluices, removing rubbish and leaves, and clearing blockages such as shrubs, weeds and even trees, we do everything we can to reduce the risk of flooding to people’s homes and businesses.”

And he said dredging was not always effective at reducing flooding.

But the Labour MP has written to NRW saying he believes conditions are such that dredging must now take place.

“We have to do a lot more to safeguard properties and indeed land,” he said.

“Our climate is changing and we’re also building more and more so much more pressure is put on the rivers.

“We’ve had fairly horrendous levels in the Dee and we’ve seen the effects of flooding further along the coast such as in Rhyl. We certainly don’t want to see that.”

Mr Tami acknowledged money was an issue in the current financial climate but questioned the sense of not acting.

“Obviously there have been large cuts to the staffing of the Environment Agency and that’s a concern. They can only do so much,” he said.

“But we do need to put more resources in as the recent weather has shown.”

Mr Tami said more and more properties were being flooded on repeat occasions.

“And then the whole insurance situation arises,” he said, “with companies refusing to insure people or coming up with ludicrous premiums.

“People are very worried about it when they see what’s happening.

“I’m not an expert,” he added, “but there are clearly issues that need to be addressed.

“There are pressures on the Dee and there need to be a range of measures that can help to protect and give people that reassurance that something is being done and that we’re not just crossing our fingers it won’t happen.”

A spokesman from Natural Resources Wales said dredging would not make rivers big enough to contain the ‘huge volumes of water’ during a flood.

“During periods of flood, water will fill the river and enter the flood plain, which plays a vital role in protecting people’s properties from flooding.

“It is also a costly process,” he added, “which would need repeating regularly, with little benefit to the area.

“We make decisions on the best way to tackle the risk on a case-by-case basis, using engineering knowledge and evidence of how each river responds to make sure we give best value to the taxpayer.”

For more news from across the region visit newsnorthwales.co.uk

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