The Environment Agency ignored repeated warnings for more than a decade that a lack of maintenance along the River Don in South Yorkshire would worsen the impact of flooding.
As flooding spread across the country yesterday, the Association of Drainage Authorities said that warnings had been issued each year since 2007 at its annual conference, attended by Environment Agency staff.
The warnings were made by the association’s members in South Yorkshire, including John Duckitt, a farmer and elected commissioner of the drainage board that covers Fishlake near Doncaster, where parts of the village are still submerged more than a week after flooding began.
Speaking from his home yards from the Don, Mr Duckitt, 83, said that his concerns fell on “deaf ears”. He claimed that the agency “chooses to do as little as possible” and had allowed trees and plants to grow on the side of the river narrowing the channel after “ignoring local knowledge”.
“They knew about the problem and chose to ignore it,” he said. “This made the floods worse. Fair enough this flood was unprecedented but the Environment Agency, through lack of maintenance on the river, protracted the flood. It didn’t get away fast enough and did more damage.”