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Saturday, 23 May 2015

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Floods legal action heads for the courts

A mass legal action against the Environment Agency over the 2009 Cockermouth floods is heading for the courts.

The lawsuit, involving at least 200 West Cumbrian flood victims, will be presented either in the Royal Courts of Justice at London or in Bristol, probably by September of this year.

And solicitor Marcus Nickson, who is leading the mass action, claimed the case against the Environment Agency over the 2009 floods had been strengthened by this week’s flood misery in the South.

Residents, farmers and government ministers have criticised the Environment Agency’s failure to dredge rivers in areas such as Somerset, claiming this contributed to the flood’s severity.

Mr Nickson, a clinical negligence and personal injury lawyer, believes that such claims have given “added impetus” to his case.

He will allege that a failure to properly maintain the rivers Cocker and Derwent amounted to civil negligence because the agency did not discharge its duty of care.

Mr Nickson said: “The case is going ahead and it’s pretty strong. We’ve got a favourable opinion from an environmental QC and we still say that the Environment Agency had a duty to dredge the river.

“Last summer they did some substantial dredging works in Cockermouth and the river now seems to be flowing beautifully. But in 2009 there was a lot of debris and gravel.

“It is myself and flood victim Adrian Goldstein making a nuisance of ourselves that persuaded them to do something.”

He said Cockermouth probably would not have flooded if the river had been maintained, although the Environment Agency disputes this.

Meanwhile, Mr Nickson will be gathering evidence which will seek to quantify how much water flooded the town as a direct result of obstructions in the river channels.

Damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure caused by the Cumbrian floods resulted in a £276 million bill.

An Environment Agency spokesman said: “The scale of flooding in Cockermouth in 2009 was unprecedented and dredging would not have stopped the town from flooding.

“Dredging is not always the best solution to reducing flood risk.”

The spokesman said river channels in Cockermouth were inspected annually and dredging carried out to reduce flood risk.

He added: “Upstream of Cockermouth we regularly monitor the river capacity and bank condition and remove trees and other debris that could cause blockages.”

Have your say

Where are these 'sluice gates' that keep getting mentioned?
I have visited Thirlmere many times and the dam is what is known as a 'solid' type construction with only a spillway down which water overflows naturally once the reservoir is at full capacity, a quick look over the side of the dam will confirm there are no sluice gates or release valves built into it.
As far as I can see, water could not have been manually released even if UU had wanted to.

Posted by Seatoner on 23 February 2014 at 18:39

Ultimately any money won will come from the tax-payer.

Posted by Mary on 14 February 2014 at 20:48

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