Enviornment Agency report to Council Committee

On the 25th March the Sustainable Communities & Transport Scrutiny Panel convened to consider the response, or in this case, lack of response from the Environment Agency in regard to the flooding that occurred on Westhorne Avenue in the Christmas period.  Conservative Council Candidate for Middle Park & Sutcliffe Benjamin Mawji attended the meeting.


After the opening remarks the Environment Agency launched into defence mode in their explanation on what actually happened, where they admitted that they worked until health and safety meant they were unable remove blockages on the trash screen in the River Quaggy. However they did not give an exact time to which they stopped working and gave little evidence to actually trying to warn residence that the River Quaggy might overflow, other than stating that the nation flood warnings were adequate enough.


The Environment Agency confirmed that it would be putting lighting and CCTV at the trash screen in order to respond quicker to any further situations along with prioritising the location to have necessary equipment. They would also be looking into other possibilities further up the stream to remove debris. Along with creating a overflow path that doesn’t run through local residents houses. 


Conservative Councillors Nigel Fletcher and Adam Thomas led the charge to try to get to the bottom of the lack of warning residents received and what actually caused the flooding. They uncovered that the one truck capable of removing the blockages on the trash screen was actually not even located near any of the 25 trash screens in the south east of London. Even worse was the fact the Environment agency was unable to answer whether this vital piece of equipment was actually used elsewhere.


Large numbers of residents who were victims of the flooding attended the meeting, where they showcased the negligence of the Environment Agency from the design of the trash screen, to the inability to clear away the debris effectively as it was regularly left on the walkway to fall back in.


Only two of the labour ward councillors turned up in support of the residents after previously voting to reject a proposal by Greenwich conservatives to exempt flood victims from council tax until their properties were fit to live in again.


Overall the Environment Agency was unable to answer basic questions regarding the incident as they didn’t have the required information at hand. One therefore has to question if the Environment Agency has an institutional inability to prepare.