A PARISH council has slammed a councillor’s motion, which urges the Environment Agency (EA) to dredge part of the River Thames, as ‘misleading’.

A Tory leaflet has been distributed around Datchet stating that Cllr David Cannon (Con: Datchet, Horton & Wraysbury), Senior Member of Public Protection, is due to table a motion at the Royal Borough Council’s full meeting of Tuesday asking the EA to dredge the Royal Borough portion of the river, specifically between Black Potts and Bells Weir.

Dredging involves removing sediment and debris from the bottom of the river to create a greater depth of water so that it can hold more capacity.

Cllr Cannon said the Thames had been dredged for 50 years by authorities until EA decided to scrap it when it took over maintenance management due to cost effectiveness and to protect a depressed muscle population.

The motion also urged the EA to speed up its alternative flood defense plans to protect Datchet, Horton, Wraysbury and Old Windsor after part of the River Thames Scheme channel one council was removed by the EA and Surrey County Council due to the Royal Borough not being able to afford it.

Old drawing of the River Thames Scheme with canal one included

He said the first channel was taken down in July 2019, when in reality it was July 2020. Cllr Cannon said that was a typo and will be corrected.

But Datchet parish councilor Ian Thompson, a senior flood member, criticized the leaflet for being ‘misleading’, saying the EA said ‘years ago’ it would not dredge the Thames in Due to profitability, the dump he was using is filled, and the river bed has contaminated heavy metals.

He explained at a parish council meeting on Monday, July 11: “If that were to be the intention, where would they throw it? They cannot dump this material anywhere on land or in the sea because it is a contaminant. This will contaminate shellfish and other things in the estuary.

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Meanwhile, Cllr Ewan Larcombe (National Flood Prevention Party: Datchet, Horton & Wraysbury) said it was ‘trying to distract’ from the fact that the council was no longer part of the River Thames Scheme.

He also criticized the committee between the council and the EA which is looking at alternative flood defense systems from Datchet to Hythe End, as the relevant parish councils are not involved in these discussions.

He said: “We are the victims of a filibuster exercise. We go around the loop again with no action, no talk and no promises.

Royal Borough Observer: Cllr David CannonCouncilor David Cannon

Cllr Cannon called Cllr Thompson ‘anti-dredge’ and ‘unnecessary’, saying river users and riparian owners have evidence that there is a loss of river capacity and navigation by a cumulative buildup of silt and asks the EA to reconsider the dredging as circumstances have changed since 1997.

He said: ‘We have committed £10million in our current budget to support flood control in the villages of Datchet, Horton, Wraysbury and Old Windsor, a commitment which Cllr Larcombe has voted against on at least two occasions .

“Everyone needs to work together to deliver affordable, deliverable programs to protect our communities, rather than continuing to make political points on a previously unaffordable project that EA no longer intends to pursue.

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“RBWM is working with and encouraging the EA, to expedite their work to provide affordable and deliverable flood mitigation for our communities, I just wish these Datchet Parish Councilors would start working with us, to support our communities, rather than making such negative statements to serve their own agendas.

An EA spokesperson said local councilors represent the views of their communities and parish councils on the steering group, which provides strategic leadership and governance support, and that everyone is kept informed of progress at Royal Borough Flood Liaison Group meetings.