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UPDATED: Environment Agency blames Aylesbury Vale District Council for brook flooding

Flooded Brotheridge Court, Aylesbury, two weeks ago

Flooded Brotheridge Court, Aylesbury, two weeks ago

The Environment Agency has pinned the blame for a clogged up brook which is believed to have caused flooding at the Willows estate in Aylesbury on the district council.

A blame game began immediately after the Stoke Brook, which runs a short distance from the Willows estate, burst its banks on February 7 after heavy rain.

Flooding affected 80 homes and led Aylesbury MP David Lidington to demand answers from the Environment Agency about the maintenance of the brook.

Now, in a written reply to Mr Lidington, the agency said Aylesbury Vale District Council is responsible for maintaining the brook.

The agency outlined its role as managing flood risks and offering guidance to the district council while Bucks County Council is responsible for managing a flood risk strategy.

The agency’s West Thames area manager Julia Simpson said in her letter: “We have permissive powers and responsibilities to manage flood risk from main rivers such as Stoke Brook.

“However it is the responsibility of the person who owns the land adjacent to a river, stream or ditch, known as the riparian owner, to maintain the watercourse.

“In this case Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC) is the riparian owner of the Stoke Brook.”

The agency also said the operation of sluice gates, which had been identified as a potential cause, was not to blame.

Ms Simpson said there are ‘no structures with sluice gates along the Stoke Brook’ and described the brook as having a ‘very sporadic nature’ where levels during can ‘recede unexpectedly’.

Mr Lidington said the next step is to gather all the authorities in one place to thrash out responsibilities but he is yet to receive responses from all of them.

He said: “What I’m seeking to do is have a meeting which pulls the various authorities together to try and sort it out – the Environment Agency, the county council, the district council and Thames Water.”

Head of planning for Aylesbury Vale District Council John Byrne said: “We agree with the Environment Agency that AVDC is a riparian owner of one side of Stoke Brook but only for a small part of it which was involved in this event.

“We have a maintenance programme in place for the stretch which we own which we have always fulfilled to the satisfaction of the Environment Agency.

“After the recent flooding, we carried out some extra clearance beyond our ownership responsibilities to help local residents and reduce the risk of more flooding.

“Roles and responsibilities around watercourses are complex.

“This is one of the reasons why we have asked the county council as the Lead Flood Authority, to investigate the circumstances which led to the flood and identify what action can be taken to reduce or prevent the same situation occurring again. The county council has agreed to this.”

 

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