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Dredging (Or The Lack Of It) On The Thames

December 28, 2015

By Paul Homewood 


h/t Keeffromlondon




There is an interesting comment from a guy called Martyn G on John Redwood’s blog today:


I have been a volunteer assistant lock keeper on the river Thames for the past 4 years and modestly suggest that I might know something whereof I speak. The Oxfordshire section of the river Thames was not dredged at all this year. In fact, I put a dredger and its barge through the lock I was working at the start of the season, after which it was berthed at Abingdon lock and didn’t move for the next 6 months. At the end of the season it returned downstream for winter, having not once being put to use. We were informed by the EA that they were in dispute with the Fisheries Agency, who had effectively banned dredging to protect the fish and water life. I have no idea whether or not the EU was behind that.
There is concrete visual evidence that, in the absence of dredging, silt levels have significantly built up over 2015. At the start of 2015, downstream of my local lock weir there were 2 green buoys (keep on your right going upstream, left downstream) marking the edge of the edge of the navigable channel. There are now 5 green buoys marking the greatly expanded silted up shallows and 2 red can buoys (keep on your left going upstream, right downstream) showing by how much the channel has been reduced over 2015 alone. Over the boating season the lock is filled and emptied many hundreds of times and each time the lock empties to let boats downstream, thousands of gallons of water flush the channel and act to keep it relatively clear of silt. But the silt has to go somewhere; hence the addition red can buoys because silt flushed along the channel has built up against the downstream right hand bank of the river where it bends to the left.
Over the past 2 or so months there has been a small handful of lock movements, hence little water to flush the channel and it is entirely predictable that the channel will become even narrower without dredging in 2016. The commercial users of the river using large passenger boats are likely to find their businesses affected by narrowed and shallowed navigation channels. There is another predictable matter, in that we haven’t had a great deal of rain recently, but nearby weirs have opened most of their sluices and put out ‘red boards’ warning of increasing stream (speed and strength of flow). Predictably, if we get heavy and persistent rain in this part of the world, the increasing silt buildup and narrowing navigable channels will restrict the ability of the river to pass the increased stream and flooding issues will arise at an earlier stage than would otherwise be the case. Listening on the radio and TV to those in the badly flooded areas this morning, it seems pretty clear that lack of dredging is at least part – perhaps a major part – of the problem for those unfortunates affected by flooding. Note that I do not entirely blame the EA for this, because I can see that its activities are hindered by reduced funding, political decisions and perhaps not least the ‘green blob’.

  1. December 28, 2015 6:35 pm

    The government calls the rains and floods unprecedented (which they aren’t), not because they are ignorant but because any other explanation involves them or their unpopular policies as culprits. The aspect of inappropriate or not-understood-results-of EU directives is problably worse for the pro-EU government, as it undermines the idea that belonging to the EU is best for Britain.

    It will take a seriously independent, confident leader of impeccable credentials to tell the public that lack of dredging because of internal Fisheries policies, budget cuts and exterior (EU) legal obligations are a large cause of flooding damages and hardships. Insurance costs affect everyone in the wallet – that is an unseen but real result of flooding that such a person could point to.

    The other way out of the “crisis” is for another, seriously independent, confident leader of impeccable credentials to admit that large-scale social restructuring is, indeed, a government cum leadership objective. There will be disruptions, local pain and a major rethinking of lifestyle for all its people. That is, in bold truth, what the zero-carbon emission, non-fossil fuel, be-kind-to-nature, deconsume, depopulation agenda of the eco-green movement has in mind.

    The public – even the greens – still think that the decarbonization program will be achieved through the selfless action of Others. The New England birkenstockers of the Sierra Club promote that view. What “we” do will be painless, essentially cost-less, and – in their views – actually increase our quality and quantity of life. And there will be lots of room for us and our families, even those who have more than 2.1 children per couple. This is not delusion at the top but a lie, but it is a convenient and useful lie. And is, of course, true for those at the top of the green blob, the 1%ers who will not be inconvenienced as they jet to yet another COP meeting.

    We need a new term for what the eco-green movement envisage. Marxism had its Utopian Workers’ Paradise. Capitalism had its American Dream. The eco-green movement, as far as I can see it, is a late-1800’s, cottage industry, rural village existence powered by windmills and solar panels. Like the Workers’ Paradise and the American Dream, it is a fantasy. But its “reality” has not been brought together. And for good reason. A sea of wind turbines on a lonely moor where nobody but the turbine operators venture looks exciting (in a Stalinist way) and without negative impact. Lights and power going off in the evening of a winter’s day, of being isolated in your village because you are only ALLOWED a bicycle for personal transport, and storing potatoes in your basement cellar because overseas transport of vegetables are not permitted – these aspects are not the ones the providers of the agenda want the public to understand. Because the whole agenda would be rejected and the promoters – the future governors, owners, regulators and rich – vilified.

    What we need is a novel or a movie – a 1984 type revelation of the future in which all these eco-green objectives have been met by a dedicated, necessarily ruthless, cadre of Believers.

    Let’s call it “Rousseau’s Last Children”.

  2. December 28, 2015 8:38 pm

    Early in my career I worked on what you would call dike patrol in the delta system of the Fraser river. In response to a disastrous flood a generation before, authorities had initiated a system of enhanced dikes and more aggressive dredging of the annual deposit of silt resulting from the river’s course through the mountains.

    There has been less attention paid to the dikes in the generation since, less emphasis on dredging. Another problem that I don’t see anybody directing attention to is the regulatory burden placed on the thousands of streams and drainage ditches running through the local farms that provided thousands of miles of pressure relief for any flooding from the main flow.

    Not only are those channels filling up with silt and gravel but the process is welcomed by authorities. Farmers receive severe penalties for trying to improve flow through their farms without first dealing with massive procedural hurdles intended to prevent them from cleaning out the silt buildup.

    When there is a repeat of the weather conditions of seventy years ago here, the result will be huge. Back then, in the previous flood, the area was rural, populated by self sufficient farmers. Now it has hundreds of thousands of urban residents, complete with chemical processing plants, refineries, bridges on tricky soil conditions and a major portion of the entire region’s power grid.

    This year, next year, maybe ten years down the road. It will happen sooner or later. The social and economic consequences for a couple of million people will be catastrophic. It will take years to repair some of the major damage. It will be blamed on global warming.

    I remember reading years ago about the efforts of the greenies to block work aimed at maintaining and improving water flow through New Orleans. Not only were improvements blocked but the existing channels were deliberately allowed to revert to swamp, blocked by vegetation. As predicted by some at the time. the inevitable happened. A fairly large hurricane came through. Even though it was of a size handled easily before, the back pressure increased the forces on the dikes so that a typical force three hurricane that they were designed to deal with, exceeded their capacity.

    Hurricane Katrina was a typical force three hurricane when it hit New Orleans. The mayor at the time didn’t move the city’s school bus fleet to high ground because the city had done so with force three hurricanes twice in the past and it proved an unnecessary large expenditure of limited funds.

    At the time, the chattering classes led by Al Gore said: that the flooding was proof positive that global warming was going to kill us all and soon unless we followed his recommendation, that it was all President Bush’s fault and proof positive that he was evil, that since a significant number of blacks were affected, it was proof positive that America was, is and always will be racist until people who think like Al Gore are put in complete charge of everything.

    There are plenty of reasons for the disastrous effect of Katrina on New Orleans. Katrina’s power, when it hit New Orleans, was not one of them.

  3. December 28, 2015 10:28 pm

    The willful self-ignorance and blatant lying from our elected “leaders” these days is astonishing. (See the Cruz congressional video with Curry and Steyn, “Data or Dogma”, if you have any question of this.)

    Saying black is white and white, black comes with absolutely no repercussions these days. Even if “fact check” media reports point out the untruths, it doesn’t matter. No one elected or at the top of the business or celebrity world is accountable. If their intent is considered a liberal good, then they are, instead, lauded. If they are conservative, then they are said to be demons, but the point is still true: there is no blowback. It doesn’t matter whether a Hillary Clinton or a Donald Trump say absolute bollocks or even if they contradict themselves within the span of an evening news. They all get away with it. The tribe closes ranks, and the outsiders are often just as bad and have no position to argue from. Besides, it doesn’t matter. There is no penalty for misleading, lying, misinforming or keeping deliberately uninformed. The only penalty handed out is for blinking, for hesitating to repeat what you just said, for admitting any level of error.

    Environmental tragedies that come, at least in part, from unintended consequences of badly-thought-out policies will continue because “blinking” is no longer a quality the leadership recognizes as wise at times. And they have climate change to blame.

    The situation socially reminds me of the terrible military blunders of WWI and the Stalinist years. Admitting error was impossible as it cast doubt on the brilliance and impeccable foresight of leadership, political as well as military. And there was a ready target for blame: the cowardice of the common, uneducated man, and the internal enemies with their negative attitudes, ill-discipline and even criminal sabotage. An enemy of the state, of the planet and of mankind are now the one and the same – anyone who disagrees with the eco-green agenda.

  4. Richard111 permalink
    December 29, 2015 7:51 am

    Consider another small problem. 25 millimetres of rainfall equals 25 litres of water for every square metre of land. 10,000 newly built houses each with a 50 square metre footprint will cover 500,000 square metres of land. Now add in all the access roads and I think you could double that figure. So now on our new housing estate we have 1,000,000 square metres of land that is now effectively water proofed. That recent 25 mm of rain, quite normal, has now produced 25,000,000 litres of water that MUST be drained away to the nearest water course. That is 25,000 tons of water from just one new housing estate. Go figure.

    • Simon Collins permalink
      December 29, 2015 5:14 pm

      Richard111: You are right, but in fairness, most new housing schemes will have a water attenuation capacity as a condition of planning, so that a heavy downpour is captured in a pond with a small pipe to release it slowly into the watercourse to avoid a flood downstream.

      • dukeofurl permalink
        December 31, 2015 12:02 am

        Those sort of attenuation schemes are often only for up to a 1 in 10 or 15 yr flood. Plus you need a watercourse within the development, plenty of flatter places just pipe it to a watercourse some km away.
        Ideally you will detention tanks attached to each dwelling sized for their roof and hard standing areas, with a small diameter outlet.

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