EA ‘has rewritten history’ in Fens dispute
MIDDLE LEVEL NAVIGATIONS
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.