Letter: Environment - Clear ‘island’ to prevent flooding

The River Ure floods Ripon. Picture by Bob Turner.
The River Ure floods Ripon. Picture by Bob Turner.

First of all, may I offer my thanks for and appreciation of the sterling work which was carried out by members of the Emergency Committee, including the police, HBC employees, NYCC and employees of the Environment Agency during the recent protracted testing of the Boroughbridge flood protection scheme.

There were only a few “glitches” - caused inevitably by the control of the penstocks and pumps, rectified promptly by EA staff called to the sites.

Now that the Ure has returned to an almost normal level, I thought I would take a long, hard look at the “island” between the weir and the bridge.

This island, which has been allowed to build up over the years and consists of silt and vegetation, has been a threat to the safety of the bridge and an impediment to the free flow of the river for far too long a period and almost caused a disaster during the last period of flooding when a large portion broke away and blocked the centre span of the bridge.

Fortunately the river level dropped sufficiently for the debris to float clear of the bridge, to everyone’s relief (with the possible exception of the owners of Riverside Court, who now have an extra piece of garden).

On examination, the island will soon be a peninsula as the channel between the island and the Boroughbridge (Mill Lane) bank of the Ure is distinctly narrower than hitherto.

Is it too much to ask that the Environment Agency be requested to clear as much of the “island” away as soon as is practicable, along with all the other channel clearing work in the Ure and its tributaries which has been neglected for so long and which is such a vital part of our area’s flood defences?

I am well aware that the Emergency Committee has in its remit pastoral care for victims of flooding and other disasters, but as one who was heavily involved in the inception and formation of the current scheme - used, incidentally, as a model by NYCC - my view is that equally important is an ongoing lobbying of the Environment Agency and other authorities to ensure that adequate measures are taken by them to avert disasters.

Geoff Craggs

Fishergate, Boroughbridge