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RIVER STEEPING: BADGERS RELOCATED AND DREDGING TO GO AHEAD

Matt Warman MP today welcomed the news that badgers blighting the flood defences for Wainfleet at the River Steeping have been relocated, and the confirmation that much-needed dredging will go ahead early in the new year.

Following a meeting to discuss plans for the River Steeping at Wainfleet, organised by Cllr Wendy Bowkett, where attendees included representatives from the Environment Agency, town and parish councillors and local farmers, County Councillors and drainage officials have confirmed the news.

At the meeting, the Environment Agency updated attendees that, following concerns raised at a previous meeting in February about bank damage caused by badger setts, the badgers have been successfully relocated to a new artificial sett. As a result, repair works to the banks can now be completed by the end of November.

Environment Agency Flood and Coastal Risk manager Deborah Campbell said: “We will be taking a proactive approach to managing these risks. The artificial sett project has been a great success and learnings from this will be rolled out to other areas of the country. There is however no substitute for local knowledge and we would encourage town and parish councils and local residents to contact the EA to let us know of any concerns. With 1700km of raised banks across Lincolnshire it is important that we work in partnership to monitor and manage risk.”

Matt Warman MP said “Clearly there is a disconnect between some areas of the country culling badgers and others creating artificial setts to relocate colonies, but we must act within the scope of the current legislation. I will however continue to argue for a practical, common sense approach to managing these risks to be reflected in law in the future. It is right that significant amounts of public money have been spent to protect the people, businesses and land of Wainfleet, but cheaper and more sensible options should also be explored – I have already discussed with ministers whether that means changing the law and will push to do so if necessary.”

Discussing the impact of silt in the river, attendees were informed that talks between the risk-management authorities, the Regional Flood and Coastal Committee, local councils and local landowners have resulted in an agreement for the de-silting and future management of the Steeping River. Negotiations over the detailed funding arrangements are ongoing, with final sign-off in January, but in the interim, licences and other legal agreements will be obtained so that the scheme can start in February 2017.

Speaking after the meeting in Wainfleet, ELDC ward member Councillor Wendy Bowkett said “This is great news for Wainfleet and indeed the whole catchment as this scheme will finally see the Steeping River brought back to its former glory. It will greatly improve the water quality, ease the flows further upstream and even restore the fishing! It’s great to see everybody working together to achieve a common aim and I’m really pleased to be a part of it.”