GLOUCESTERSHIRE County Council has called on the Environment Agency to reassess its long-standing policy of not using river dredging as a means to reduce the risk of flooding.
At a meeting on Wednesday (January 22) members of the authority unanimously backed a motion put forward by the Conservative councillor Vernon Smith, which appealed to the Environment Agency to reconsider its standard policy of not clearing waterways as a matter of course.
With heavy downpours resulting in widespread flooding across the county in recent months, Cllr Smith believes that dredging could help prevent rivers from bursting their banks and causing damage to homes and businesses.
Introducing his motion at Shire Hall on Wednesday, he said: “The Environment Agency is reluctant to do it because of costs but they need to revisit dredging and use it as a tool as part of their flood alleviation programmes because flooding is devastating.
“We have to do more to protect our properties and floodwater has no political boundaries so I would urge all members to stand with me.”
Tory Cllr Shaun Parsons, who seconded the resolution, said it was an appeal for ‘a re-assessment, not a universal call for dredging’.
GCC's chief executive will now write to the environment secretary Owen Patterson asking him to look again at the EA's uniform policy on dredging to see if it might be revised.
Last year, the Environment Agency said GCC’s decision to invest in flood protection measures in 2007 had spared more than 500 houses in the county from serious flooding.