Letter: River dredging - Get back to good housekeeping

Floods  in Wetherby
Floods in Wetherby

Regarding the collapse of the Tadcaster Bridge. Following the closure a year or two ago, I had a look round and noted a large tree embedded among the growing vegetation on the north, upstream side, virtually blocking the small arch.

From the Wetherby News photographs with the large amount of growing vegetation I doubt if this was ever cleared, concentrating the flow through the main arch. Once through the bridge there is some relief on the plain beyond the brewery.

These old bridges usually have a rubble core and it requires well-maintained masonry to prevent ingress of water to loosen and wash out this core.

Most masonry bridges are poorly maintained, including Wetherby, Linton and Harewood, with trees and bushes growing in the open joints, roots deep into the masonry.

Before the disbanding of the dedicated River Drainage Boards, with their fleets of dragline excavators, mainly Smiths, Leeds; and Priestmans, Hull; a clear flow was maintained.

The quality of a farmer was judged by the state of his ditches and dykes, the highways by the state and regular maintenance of their drains, and the prompt digging and clearing of ‘grips’ across verges to get standing water away.

The EU requires that prior to clearing, ‘vole surveys’ are carried out and dredged materials instead of building up the banks, is deemed ‘contaminated’ and carted to landfill sites.

Good for voles but not for flooded properties. Get back to good housekeeping.

Paul Thompson