Mill Beck work “doesn’t add up”

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A LEADING campaigner in the fight to halt controversial flood plans in Market Weighton insists the calculations “don’t add up” and has even claimed consultants could stand to gain financially from the work.

Peter Hemmerman, who is also the town’s mayor, has vehemently opposed the £3 million work planned by the Environment Agency (EA) for Mill Beck since before the plans went on show earlier this year.

With the risk of flooding being so minimal, he has repeatedly said the work is both a waste of time and money.

And having studied the details and calculations put forward by the EA about the risks posed, Councillor Hemmerman has raised questions over their credibility, but says he is yet to receive satisfactory answers.

Speaking at a public meeting in Market Weighton with EA officials, which he chaired, Councillor Hemmerman said: “One of the stumbling blocks we have had since day one is the calculations the Environment Agency have come up with.

“They have made several changes to the figures they gave us for no apparent reason and it’s purely a mathematical event.

“The figures have never been explained to us and they don’t add up.

“To base scientific policy on the future is the same as basing it on astrology or creationism, there’s no proof.

“There are external consultants who do these calculations which stand to gain financially from this, and I’m very concerned about that.

“I believe they have not been done in an honest way- they are not to protect us but to make it viable and to make the whole thing move forward.”

He has questioned whether a full tendering process had been carried out and has asked the EA to supply details of which companies are included on the shortlist.

Around 20 people attended the meeting at Market Weighton Community Hall on Wednesday night where they could quiz EA officials.

Questions included the cost of alternative work and how the beck meets the criteria for being a ‘critical water course’.

The EA explained that Mill Beck was upgraded from an ordinary water course to a reservoir in 2006 because of its capacity to hold more than 25,000 cubic metres of water. The EA insist that because of the legislation, they have a legal obligation to carry out the work, and that the construction of a spillway would be the most cost effective way to satisfy the requirements.

EA area flood risk manager Kim Andrew said at the meeting: “I understand that you do not like it or want it, personally I wish you did not have to have it- Pickering is desperate for this work to reduce flooding but they can’t have it.

“There are many reservoirs across England and Wales, and this has been applied nationally. We have to comply with the law.

“A disaster may never happen, but because there’s a possibility, even a small one, if that embankment floods it would take a torrent of water through to town and would take houses and cars with it. That’s why we have to have the work.”

Work could start on the waterway as early as spring 2012, but Councillor Hemmerman insists he had not given up hope that the plans could be halted.

He said: “There’s still a lot of dissatisfaction about the process but it won’t change the plans at the moment. We must continue on what we need to do, we have not given up yet.”