Boater con­cerns at Nene flood plans

Canal Boat - - News -

THE PRAC­TICE OF ‘re­vers­ing’ locks (turn­ing them into flood weirs) on the River Nene is to be aban­doned by the En­vi­ron­ment Agency on safety grounds – but some boaters are wor­ried that it will lead to more flood­ing.

Most of the locks on the river have guil­lo­tine bot­tom gates, so that in times of flood they can be used as ex­tra weirs by chain­ing open the up­per mitre gates and then rais­ing the guil­lo­tine, to help get rid of ex­cess wa­ter.

The EA has now de­cided to stop re­vers­ing locks af­ter Septem­ber 2016 on the ba­sis that: The strong cur­rents and white wa­ter cre­ated could be haz­ardous to nearby craft. De­spite warn­ings not to at­tempt to nav­i­gate in these cir­cum­stances, boats have been sunk in re­versed locks. Any­one who fell into a lock would have dif­fi­culty get­ting out. Staff need­ing to visit locks at night or in stormy con­di­tions could be at risk.

The agency ac­cepts that in the im­me­di­ate vicin­ity of locks flood­ing might oc­cur ear­lier, more fre­quently and for longer if the locks are no longer re­versed, but be­lieves that it will not “sig­nif­i­cantly in­crease flood risk” as in larger “flood events”, struc­tures will be­come over­whelmed by wa­ter any­way.

The EA is speak­ing to users at lo­cal drop-in events pro­moted through boat clubs and mari­nas, but CanalBoat has al­ready heard from boaters con­cerned that the change will un­nec­es­sar­ily in­crease flood risk and af­fect boaters moored on lock cuts, and that not all landown­ers were in­formed.

Mean­while, the EA will be re­view­ing re­ver­sal on the Great Ouse on a lock by lock ba­sis.

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