Memorandum by the Association of Drainage
Authorities (IW 77)
MEASUREMENT OF NAVIGATIONS
The Internal Drainage Board members of the Association
have an acute interest in the effective management of rivers,
many of which are used for navigational purposes. This is particularly
the case with the Rivers Great Ouse, Welland and Nene which pass
through low lying areas including land significantly below sea
level and upon which their management in terms of flood protection
and land drainage is crucial.
At the present time the navigation on these
rivers is in the control of the Environment Agency who are able
to control water levels in a way which facilitates that use at
the same time, and most importantly, ensures that the often complex
arrangements are operated in such a way that flood risk is minimised.
Many of the water level control structures on these and other
rivers combine to provide both navigational passage and flood
water discharge and to contemplate a division of the river management
across these services would be a most retrograde step.
Whilst I would not underestimate the importance
of navigation it is very much a minority interest compared to
those with an interest in flood risk which is an all year round
concern rather than seasonal activity. It therefore follows that
the single body managing the navigable rivers should be that with
the flood risk responsibility this being the Environment Agency
on its main river system and Internal Drainage Boards as with
the Middle Level Commissioners where they are established as the
Considering the recent and widespread flooding
events it becomes more important that rivers are managed in a
way which seeks to reduce flood risk and transferring of this
responsibility to a body with a primary navigation interest would
send quite the wrong signal to property and landowners who seek
a more, rather than less, focused attention given to flood management.
The Association are strongly opposed to any
dilution in the management of rivers for flood protection which
would occur if changes to the present arrangements were made.
20 November 2000