|Winds, floods and the revenge of nature|
EXTRACT: However, the real problem goes much deeper. As alluded to by Pickles, many within the EA and elsewhere are very dubious about the benefits of dredging - and rightly so. Not only will dredging make very little difference, if any: it can be positively damaging. You do not have to be a genius to work it out. A river’s capacity is tiny by comparison to the catchment from which it draws its water. Therefore, dredging is likely to cause faster and more dangerous floods downstream when the water hits - for example - the nearest urban obstacle, like a trail track or bridge.
But the problems do not end there. If you cut off a river from its flood plain by turning it into a deep trench, you run the risk of speeding up the flow of water to other areas downstream. Congratulations - you have just made a bad situation worse by creating more dangerous rivers, undermining the foundations of bridges, weirs, culverts and river walls and causing untold destruction to the natural world; removing gravel from river beds by dredging leads to the loss of spawning grounds for fish, and can cause the loss of some species, like otters and water voles. And you may have spent enormous amounts of money making this ecological disaster. Now there is real joined-up thinking.