Dredging of River Hull 'can't be justified', say experts
THE £14.6m dredging of the River Hull cannot be justified because it would not protect the city from flooding, experts say.
Some councillors have called for regular dredging to resume as concerns grow over silt levels on some sections of the river.
Estimates put the cost of dredging the whole of the river at £14.6m.
But Philip Winn, Humber strategies manager at the Environment Agency, said there was simply not enough evidence to show dredging would boost flood resilience.
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Speaking at a council scrutiny meeting, he said: "If you take half a metre of silt out, water levels would remain the same.
"You might see marginal benefits upstream from dredging but not elsewhere. The sediment moves up and down the river.
"Overall, we cannot demonstrate there is a benefit in terms of flood risk by taking sediment out of the river."
Mr Winn said substantial funding for dredging work would only be released if there was a recognised risk of flooding. He said: "At this stage, we are simply unable to demonstrate sufficient benefit from a flood risk point of view to justify this level of spend.
"There is about £20m available nationally for dredging work and asking to spend £14m on just one river would be a huge proportion of that national pot."
Mr Winn said there might be a case for dredging specific areas but only in conjunction with other organisations with an interest in the river.
He said: "If there were other benefits, such as improving amenity or access, we would certainly consider supporting any funding bid. If amenity was the overriding issue, the agency would look to involve other agencies in a debate about doing something collectively."
Councillor Terry Keal, chairman of the city's environment and transport scrutiny committee, said: "Public perception is the problem, because most people think there is too much silt in the river and it needs clearing out."
He said improving access to riverside areas could attract more visitors.
But Councillor Dave Craker said: "I believe the River Hull does not dredging.
"If you look in some areas, the river banks are getting closer together. It needs to be made wider otherwise you are going to end up making it impossible for boats to get upriver."
Steve Wragg, the city council's flood risk planning manager, said work has started on a new policy masterplan for the River Hull, aimed at unlocking funding for regeneration work associated with the river.
He said: "We need to make the river something worth looking at and exploring rather than turning away from."