Ottery flood prevention measures 'could be years' away

PUBLISHED: 13:05 12 January 2009 | UPDATED: 16:45 14 April 2010

OTTERY could be years away from an end to its flooding woes according to the agencies tasked with remedying the problems.

OTTERY could be years away from an end to its flooding woes according to the agencies tasked with remedying the problems.

The Environment Agency, East Devon District Council and Devon County Council have teamed up in light of the events of October 30, which saw one of the highest ever recorded rainfalls in the UK near The King's School.

Speaking of potential actions that might be taken, the Environment Agency's Adrian Rushworth said: "Tree catchers (used to sift large objects from rivers and streams) are one of the easier ones - we want to do it as a package of measures, some will be in a few months- others longer, and could be years- it is all down to money and the priorities of the three agencies."

The multi-agency working group said it is still unsure of the best way to engage the 30 flood-hit communities of October 30. The agencies want to work with Ottery town council to bridge this gap and to develop an emergency plan for the town. A public meeting is also in the pipeline.

Mr Rushworth said that work was underway to tackle land management issues on East and West hill, perceived to be a major contributor to Ottery's flooding problems.

He said: "Tackling water coming down from East Hill is a priority.

"It is about targeting the right farmers- it's not as easy as saying that farmer grows grass and that farmer grows maize, it can be down to how the soil has been managed.

"Maize fields can absorb water if properly looked after. Want to make sure that before we get tough we are pushing people to maintain their land properly- we have had some success already with some land owners."

Blockages due to garden items and waste being dumped and stored in the town's culvert have also been highlighted as a major danger that could have led to more devastation during more downpours on December 13.

Mayor Glyn Dobson said: "There was a ladder, a sack of logs, a barbeque and even a plastic greenhouse in there. If they had not been pulled out at 3.30am in the morning the town would have flooded again."

Residents have been urged not to store items near the watercourse. The Environment Agency has powers to prosecute anyone caught dumping items in it.

Mr Rushworth added: "The difficulty is proving it. We have tried the softly softly approach it just hasn't worked- but you have to have evidence.

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