Agency accused of neglecting flood defences

Flooding around Brede Valley. 30/1/14
Flooding around Brede Valley. 30/1/14

THE Environment Agency has strongly refuted claims by one of its own workforce that vital maintenance work on rivers in the Rye area has been ignored or left unfinished.

The whistle blower, who works in the Rye area, contacted the Observer to say: “Routine maintenance has been neglected. Some has been started but left unfinished.

“The flooding at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve could have been prevented and there have been lots of complaints about the flood walls in Rye town.

“It is all being pushed under the carpet when it should not be. Management have not got a clue and they don’t care.

“We have four people off with stress. Work should have been done but it hasn’t been.

“It is getting out of hand and people’s homes are at stake here.”

Environment Agency spokesman Ash Dobson said: “We completely refute the suggestion that the work carried out by our staff in Rye has not been to a high standard, as it undermines the hard work carried out by our teams to protect communities across the South East from flooding.

“Our staff have worked brilliantly across a very challenging period, and can be proud of the work they have done. It is important to acknowledge this work so people in Rye have confidence in our staff and our flood prevention assets in the area that have worked to reduce their risk and impact of flooding.

“Environment Agency staff carry out regular inspections of all of our flood prevention assets as part of our ongoing effort to reduce the risk of flooding.

“Our teams have been out on the ground since Christmas working on the River Brede, the River Rother, and their tributary waterways to clear trash screens and remove blockages to ensure they are flowing well, and have carried out regular inspections to monitor water levels and issue Flood Alerts and Flood Warnings.

Along with the rest of the country, Rye has faced an extraordinary combination of weather conditions over the last six weeks and throughout this period all assets in the Rye area have been in a good condition and have performed well to reduce the risk and impact of flooding.

As a result of the exceptional rainfall, our maintenance work at Monkbretton Bridge is on hold due to the exceptional rainfall we have experienced. Work will begin again as soon as the conditions allow.”

Environment Agency teams won praise from Rye Town Council and the REACT emergency group for working through the night during the recent tidal surge to prevent Rye from flooding.