Answers and action called over Eltham's 'man-made' flooding to prevent future floods

News Shopper: Chairman of Quaggy Waterways Action Group Paul de Zylva by the River Quaggy Chairman of Quaggy Waterways Action Group Paul de Zylva by the River Quaggy

THERE are calls for answers and action after Eltham’s devastating floods following claims they might have been down to "man-made" error.

Many residents of Westhorne Avenue, where around 23 homes were flooded with up to three feet of dirty water on Christmas Eve, believe a blocked grill on the River Quaggy caused the problem.

News Shopper: The flooded River Quaggy

Much criticism has been aimed at the Environment Agency which is responsible for clearing the barricade and claims it was water from the storms which caused the flooding.

But Conservative councillor for Eltham North, Councillor Spencer Drury, says it is vital to know if the mistake was man-made to prevent residents’ insurance costs from rocketing.

He said: "It is just dreadful, especially if it is man-made.

"Frankly the people really need this confirmation of whether this is man-made in order to avoid the insurance of their homes going up."

News Shopper: Residents of Westhorne Avenue, Eltham, watch the floods

He went on to criticise Greenwich Council for not responding sooner to the crisis and turning up the next morning with sandbags which some residents could have used to stem the tide of water.

A Greenwich Council spokesman said: "The council fully appreciates how distressing it must have been for householders to have their homes flooded, especially just before Christmas.

"We do not accept claims that our response was inadequate.

"In fact, Greenwich is one of the few local authorities to supply sandbags to residents."

He went on to say the council liaised and engaged with the Environment Agency and fire and police services following the floods.

Meanwhile community action group Quaggy Waterways Action Group (QWAG) has voiced concerns about flooding along the whole stretch of river running through Sutcliffe Park which could impact on Lee High Road and Lewisham.

They claim the group raised fears with the Environment Agency two years ago over design faults throughout the park including in grills, sluices, and over the depth of an underground channel.

Chairman of QWAG Paul de Zylva told News Shopper: "Our concern is the good intention behind the renaturalisation of the Quaggy river through Sutcliffe Park, and the money spent on it, is essentially being put at risk because of the design inside.

"We can’t look at just 20 properties, we have to look at the whole stretch of river."

 A spokeswoman for the Environment Agency said: "We are working closely with our professional partners to support the communities that have been affected by flooding in Eltham and elsewhere over the Christmas period.

"Sutcliffe Park Flood Storage reservoir is part of the River Quaggy Flood Alleviation Scheme, which worked successfully to protect over 600 properties. It was not designed to protect the properties on Westhorne Avenue."

She went on to say teams worked around the clock to clear trash screens including the Westhorne Avenue grill which was a priority location.

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