EA ‘has rewrit­ten his­tory’ in Fens dis­pute

MID­DLE LEVEL NAVIGATIONS

Canal Boat - - News -

IN THE LAT­EST round in the cam­paign by the In­land Water­ways As­so­ci­a­tion to high­light navigations which it says the En­vi­ron­ment Agency is fail­ing in its duty to main­tain, an IWA branch chair­man has ac­cused the EA of rewrit­ing his­tory re­gard­ing the long-run­ning clo­sure of Welches Dam Lock.

The lock, which formed part of the al­ter­na­tive route across the Mid­dle Level fen­land water­ways from the Nene to the Great Ouse, was taken out of use in 2006 on safety grounds. Boats were pre­vented from entering it by a line of piles driven across the en­trance from the Old Bed­ford River.

Chal­lenged by Chris Howes of IWA Peter­bor­ough Branch re­gard­ing the lack of any of­fi­cial no­tice of clo­sure, the EA fi­nally added an emer­gency clo­sure no­tice to its on­line Water­ways Cal­en­dar – al­most 11 years af­ter the lock shut. IWA re­ports that it was dated 1 July 2006, sched­uled to ‘re­peat daily’ in­def­i­nitely, and signed off by Water­ways Manger Ir­ven Forbes, even though he wasn’t in that role in 2006.

Mr Howes also pointed out that de­spite the fact that the piling dam doesn’t reach right across the chan­nel, mean­ing that the lock gates are still hold­ing back wa­ter, in a re­cent Par­lia­men­tary brief­ing the EA gave the rea­son for the clo­sure as “be­cause the top gates were leak­ing”.

He also drew at­ten­tion to the 1977 Act which re­stricts the EA to only clos­ing its Anglian water­ways tem­po­rar­ily for main­te­nance or con­struc­tion work.

“This ap­pears to us as a clear at­tempt to re­write his­tory and ret­ro­spec­tively jus­tify the un­jus­ti­fi­able,” he said.

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