Environment Agency comprehensive answers to Land Owner.

Johnathan of North Level District IDB contacted me about the concerns you have raised and asked me to discuss them with you.
As you have stated your field is within the Whittlesey (Nene) Washes, a flood storage reservoir and is only used when we have to.
The Washes have been around since the Sixteenth Century so have always flooded in some form or other since that time. 
If you have had the field for twenty odd years you would have seen significant flooding in Easter 1998, 2012 and 2013, but in the intervening years, we have only had minor or no flood events, including last year, but I appreciated since New Year flood water has been going onto the Washes at regular intervals through Stanground Sluice and Northey Gravel Weir.  Water is discharged off the Washes via Rings End Sluice.

As I have said we only use the Whittlesey (Nene) Washes when we have to. 
In normal conditions water flows down the River Nene and passes through the Dog-in-a-Doublet Sluice out to sea. When we have increased flows due heavy rain in the Nene Catchment, which includes Daventry (in part), Northampton, Corby, Wellingborough and Peterborough, we do our best to get rid of the water as quickly and safely as we can through the Dog-in-a-Doublet Sluice, but this very much dependant on the amount of water coming down and the tidal cycle. Therefore, if we are on spring high tides we will not be able to get rid of as much as neap tide. 
When flood water levels rise upstream of the Dog-in-a-Doublet because it cannot be discharged because of the tide, we use the term “Tide Locked”, and this will result in a Flood Warning for the North Bank Road. So with higher levels in the River Nene, backing up towards Peterborough excess water will overflow Northey Gravel Weir and Stanground Sluice will operate, both putting water onto the Washes. To assist in the discharge of flood water we constantly have to dredge between the B1040 road bridge to the kink in the river called Popley’s Gull. What I am trying to say is we are doing our best to ensure we get rid of as much water as we can before putting it onto the Washes.

Once water is on the Washes it flows onto the Washes it obviously floods the floodplain and if water levels continue to increase then a Flood Warning goes on for the B1040 and it is closed by Cambridgeshire County Council. All the flood water on the Washes has to discharge through Rings End Sluice, which can be seen from the A47 road bridge at Guyhirn. Again the water coming off the Washes is subject to river levels, as Rings End Sluice is all gravity discharge. So if the Tidal River Nene is lower than the Washes level, water discharges, if not it stays in the Washes. The pointing doors on the Sluice prevent more water going onto the Washes.

You mentioned about the “flood defences being built” I am not aware of any new defences being built. The only work that has gone in recent years was the South Barrier Bank strengthening works and the ongoing Cradge Bank repairs and strengthening on both the Tidal Fluvial sections. These projects ensure the integrity of the Reservoir Embankment during flood events, so they should not fail when needed.  None of these projects would stop the Washes operating as they have in the past and continue to do so now.

Unfortunately flooding of the Washes is and always will be a risk experienced by the Landowners and users of the Washes, past and present. 
There is nothing we can do to assist you in reducing that risk, other than continue to do what have just explained.  I am not in a position to comment about what other landowners receive in the way of income.

I hope I have managed to explain that the Washes only flood when we they have to. 
I appreciate this is probably not the response you were hoping for but if I can be of further assistance please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Ian C

Asset Performance Officer
Asset Performance Team (W&N)
Welland & Nene Operations
Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire Area

My Thanks to LD and ©RG

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