Your report about angler Stuart Cullen’s concerns about the lack of maintenance of the Great Stour downstream of Fordwich strikes a chord with the Little Stour and Nailbourne River Management Group of which I am the chairman (River State Sparks Repeat Flood Fears, Herne Bay Gazette, October 30). The group, which comprises all the parishes on the Little Stour and Nailbourne catchment, and Fordwich Town Council as an associate, has been campaigning since 2001 for better maintenance of this stretch of the Great Stow which empties to the sea at Sandwich and is tidal as far as the Fordwlch lakes. Each year, with the help of Roy Newing at Grove boatyard, we organise one or more pioneering boat trips and take MP Julian Brazier, city and county councillors out on the Great Stow to see for themselves how this stretch has been neglected over many years. With Julian’s help, we also lobby government ministers.
After the devastating floods of last year, when more than 2,000 acres of agricultural land were under water for weeks, and valley homes and roads were flooded, all now agree that more must be done and the Environment Agency has plans to remove more than 100 fallen trees from the Great Stour. About half of this work will be done this winter but disappointingly the remainder has now been postponed for a year. The group also lobbies and monitors maintenance of the tributaries of the lower Great Stour and is in regular contact with the officers of the Environment Agency, Canterbury City Council, Kent County Council and the Internal Drainage Board re the Nailbourne, Little Stour, and associated dykes.
We greatly appreciate the work that they all do, however more is always needed especially with the extreme rainfall events and high water tables that seem to be occurring more frequently. The group continues to press for more regular and timely maintenance and flood preventative work to be done throughout the catchment. We believe it is essential to safeguard homes and livelihoods in this part of east Kent.
Work by the EA’s contractors should have begun in Bridge, Patrixbourne and Bekesbourne to remove gravels deposited by the floods which are impeding the flow of the Nailbourne this week. The culvert under the road at School Lane, Hekesboume, will also be desilted and KOC’s highways drainage team has been asked to clear the blocked pipe causing the water to back up there. Other works such as repairs to the river banks in Wickhainbreaux and Littlebourne have already been completed. Works have also happened at Elbam, Bantam and Bishopsbourne and more are planned mail the villages. Projects to resolve the many pinchpoints in the valley are in the pipeline: some of these involve permission from English Heritage; all need funding to be obtained. October was a very wet month with 150% of the long term average rainfall and the groundwater levels are worryingly high.
The agencies are now preparing in case we have another wet winter and they have plans in place to support the valley communities at risk of flooding. Local people are urged to take their own precautions and be prepared should flooding occur. If Stuart Cullen or any other interested party would like to contact me, I will provide further updates and can sign them up to the group email updating list operated by our secretary. The parish representatives on the group, local flood wardens and KCC Community Wardens should also be able to help with flood protection advice and updates.
EA flood warnings can be found online at: apps.cnvironment-agency.gov.uk/flood/
You can also sign up to receive these automatically.
Cllr Martin Twyman, Wickhambreau Parish Council and chairman of the Little Stour and Nailboume River Management Group, Newborn Farm, Grove
Herne Bay Gazette, November 20th 2014