Our Lodes - e-Petition reply
17 July 2008
We received a petition asking:
"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to ensure that the Cambridgeshire Lodes don't get ditched!"
Details of Petition:
"Some 30 years ago, a successful campaign was waged to save The
Cambridgeshire Lodes, ancient canals of probable Roman origin -
principally Bottisham, Swaffham Bulbeck, Reach, Burwell and Wicken
Lodes - which were threatened by the then authorities. A decision was
made to maintain and to preserve The Lodes.
Such is the situation today: The Lodes have been maintained and
preserved. But new documents indicate that The Environment Agency has
commissioned a 'scoping report' costing some £200,000 and that it
is looking critically at The Lodes, an option again being that of
converting all or some of them into ditches.
The old campaign slogan - 'Don't Ditch Our Lodes!' - is just as
relevant now as it was in the 1970s. A new factor is The National
Trust's plans to buy up and partially to flood some 10,000 acres of
rich fen land and the Trust says that 'lowering' some of The Lodes
would be 'acceptable.' Lowering is much the same as ditching. The
Swaffham Internal Drainage Board and Swaffham Prior Parish Council
support The Lodes being maintained. But the Philistines could be
triumphant if their opponents are inactive. So, this is a call to those
with influence to use it!"
Read the Government's responseThere is a long
history of slips and leakage through the embankments that contain the
Lodes. From time to time it has been necessary to make repairs to the
embankments to prevent massive failure, which would result in flooding
of the surrounding land.
Continued shrinkage and wastage of the fen peat could cause a worsening
of this problem, particularly on Reach Lode as this is the highest and
least stable of the Lodes embankments. Maintenance and rebuilding works
could be needed indefinitely.
At the end of 2007, the Environment Agency published the Ely Ouse Lodes
Strategic Environmental Assessment - Consultation Document. The
Environment Agency's aim is to formulate an appropriate and sustainable
approach to the future maintenance and operation of the Lodes on the
basis of current land use, whilst taking into consideration potential
land use changes over the next 100 years.
The consultation document gave everyone the chance to comment on the
options for maintenance of the Lodes. The option preferred by the
Environment Agency and most of those who responded to the consultation,
is to maintain the Lodes at their present level and undertake repairs
as and when required.
The final Ely Ouse Lodes Flood Risk Management Strategy Report was
published in April 2008, along with a Strategic Environmental
The report concluded that the preferred option is to continue
maintaining the Lodes at the current level by carrying out repairs as
and when required, unless a change in landuse causes a raised
groundwater level. An increase in groundwater level may, depending on
the degree of increase and height of the Lode, cause the risk of
failure of the Lode banks to become unmanageable. In which case a
further flood risk management option would be adopted, whereby the
embankments would be strengthened to reduce the risk of having to carry
out future repairs.