Boater concerns at Nene flood plans
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.