ANGLING: Sorry, this relief canal for Oxford doesn't hold water

First published in Sport

Gerald Stratford writes a monthly column for the Mail. Contact him on 0791 7772615

IT looks like the new flood relief canal around Oxford has got the green light.

Now, I’m sorry to sound pessimistic, but it won’t work.

Whatever you do on a flood plain will not make any difference because a flood plain is something made by mother nature, not man, and I trust her judgement over ours any time.

The Environment Agency have got to realise that river dredging is a must, and not just when they’ve got a few pounds to spare.

I spent 20 years working afloat on the Thames, most of it dredging and on flood defence.

I know a percentage of anglers think it is detrimental to their sport, but I can assure you the opposite happens and it improves.

When I was part of a dredging team, there was a team of surveyors working full-time on the river, doing soundings with very sophisticated equipment.

Before we started to dredge, the dredge master would be given information on depth and type of spoil to be dug, and you never went deeper than 1.80 metres.

The shallower the river, the more important it is to dredge.

If the area between King’s Lock and Sandford was dredged regularly – as it used to be – we wouldn’t need a new canal and that money could be used for proper river management.

What really worries me now is that since the mid-90s, when all this stopped, the skills needed have gradually diminished and will need to be re-learned.

You won’t find it by phoning an agency or by looking on a computer, because it’s not there.

I felt I had to write this, as a retired ‘river rat’, as we were called, just to put the record straight, as over the last few months there has been a lot of nonsense spoken by so-called experts who don’t know which way the river runs.

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