Environment agency puts aside £200k for river clear-up

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THE Environment Agency have allocated a grant of £200,000 to complete channel maintenance work on the River Gipping following flooding in Needham Market and the surrounding villages.

The funds, which are granted by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) will be used to de silt the river and remove vegetation from the water course.

The moves comes after pressure from Needham Market Town Council, The River Gipping Trust and Mid Suffolk District Councillor Wendy Marchant who argued that the river’s upkeep was one of the main contributing factors in the flooding which occurred in early May.

Councillor Marchant, said: “At the beginning of the year we had very heavy rainfall, around 34mm, and streets were flooded near the river.

“The river was the main cause of the flooding and the Environment Agency had not done any maintenance for a while.

“I had written to the Environment Agency saying please could they do some work on it.

“I am so delighted and surprised to get the call from the agency saying they have got this grant from DEFRA.

“It is going to be used on the River Gipping including the stretch near Needham Market.

“We would hope if at all possible the maintenance will cure the flooding problem completely.”

Brian Annis, Chairman of the River Gipping Trust, said the maintenance work was welcomed news.

He said: “The Environment Agency outlined a programme to maintain the river after we criticised the fact that the amount of maintenance work had been minimal and that some of the flooding which recently affected many villages including Needham Market were caused by this lack of maintenance.

“The news of the maintenance work is very welcome - anything they can do will be greatly appreciated.

“At a time when we are looking at water conservation, the more water we can keep in the river the better.”