Councillors warn Ottery flood woes may continue

PUBLISHED: 17:01 13 November 2008 | UPDATED: 11:38 17 June 2010

IN the aftermath of the weather chaos that swept through Ottery last month, the town s flooding woes will continue if agricultural practices on East Hill don t change according to town councillors.

IN the aftermath of the weather chaos that swept through Ottery last month, the town's flooding woes will continue if agricultural practices on East Hill don't change according to town councillors.

While the town council was unanimous that the 100mm of rain and two feet of hail which fell in a few hours was a "freak" incident at a meeting last week, some councillors expressed concerns over a long-standing issue.

The Environment Agency say flood defences along the River Otter did their job in the deluge, and the devastation wreaked upon the town was due to a combination of cars and debris blocking the brook and culvert and the unprecedented amount of rain and hail which fell.

Councillor Peter Williams said: "The amount of water from East Hill is the issue. It's nothing to do with the culvert, the water shouldn't be there in the first place. It is an issue of land management up there, using ditches and hedge rows properly to stop water coming off fields, then it can't come down the road and it can't fill up the brook..... you could have surfed down Shutes Mead on Thursday.

"You can spend all the money you like, if the water comes down in that volume it doesn't matter what you do.

"Before the end of this winter we will have the same problems- Shutes Mead will be awash- I accept this week was unique but it will happen again."

Cllr Roger Giles added: "It is fact that more flood friendly defences on East Hill, smaller fields, will help- if you can get water absorbed up there then it does help a lot. I hope we send the message (to the Environment Agency) to please look at the agricultural practices up there."

Cllr Tony Abbott said: "We spent five million on flood defences in the top part of town and were told (by the Environment Agency) there would be one incident in 70 years, We've had three since it was built."

Other councillors were quick to allay fears of a repeat of last weeks events.

Cllr George Hansford recorded at least seven and a half inches of rainfall in his back garden during the storm and said: "No matter what you do, nothing on this earth can cope with seven and a half inches of rain in that space of time, it was a freak of nature."

Cllr Paul Carter added: "This was something extraordinary, some of the things I saw moved along the roads in Fluxton by six to eight foot high hail drifts was absolutely astronomical. These were things that had been there for a long time. It was just something extra, water on its own is something different.

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