Stansted Parish Council demands action from Environment Agency to prevent flooding of Lower Street
Pressure is mounting on the Environment Agency (EA) not to “wash its hands” of Stansted’s flood threat, but to put in place prevention measures that will safeguard homes and businesses.
The frustrated parish council has slammed almost 20 years of “wasted money and inaction” that has left residents and business owners in Lower Street “living in fear of every downpour being the harbinger of disaster”.
The council had tried to get natural flood management (NFM) schemes off the ground with the consent of landowners, but the EA’s “lack of urgency and inability to communicate” was hampering any progress, it said.
As climate issues take centre stage this week at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, the call for action to resolve one of Uttlesford’s biggest flooding hotspots has come at a crucial time.
Saffron Walden constituency MP Kemi Badenoch has been asked to step in and challenge the EA over its plans for the village.
In a report to last week’s parish council finance and general purposes committee meeting, chairman Cllr John O’Brien said: “It appears that the EA has its own agenda believing only their own ideas will work, discarding any suggestions built on local knowledge. Stansted is being held to ransom by the inability of the EA to communicate effectively.
“We have waited over 19 years for action and cannot see any justification for such a delay. Every time there's a downpour, members of the flood group wait in fear that this time Lower Street will be flooded, yet the EA remain indifferent.”
And after years of commissioned reports costing thousands of pounds, they were no further forward.
In 2014 Lower Street properties suffered extensive damage due to flooding. Ugley Brook came perilously close to flooding again in January this year when water levels were just 4cm away from breaching the culvert. Village flood wardens are on standby whenever wet weather is predicted.
Mr O'Brien said the village flood group had looked further afield for a new approach and found the Belford scheme, in Northumberland, as a great example of NFM schemes.
The idea was presented at an all-agency meeting organised by Uttlesford District Council where it was discovered that the EA had failed to consider the upper reaches of Ugley Brook, on land offered up for defences, as it was outside the parish boundary.
The Environment Agency was approached by the Indie for a comment but has not responded.