Still no funding from the Environment Agency to replace broken sluice gate

The sluice gate is broken

A Freedom of Information request has revealed that work is unlikely to start on repairing the broken sluice gate at Warmley Forest Park until next summer at the earliest.

The Week In has been reporting since November 2019 on the problems being caused by the broken sluice gate, which should be controlling the flow of water into the large pond in the park that was built for flood alleviation when the nearby stretch of the Avon Ring Road was created.

The pond has been covered by a thick carpet of duckweed which has been harming wildlife. Last summer we reported on fears that the pond could also pose a safety risk like at Nunney Castle, near Frome, where a three-year-old boy almost drowned in the green algae-covered moat which he had thought was grass.

South Gloucestershire Council manages the park but the Environment Agency (EA) owns the sluice gate. After an initial dispute over who was responsible for fixing the gate, the EA has said it will fix it but it has not been a high priority.

A request for an update on the situation from a local resident has resulted in the EA saying that the work still isn’t fully funded but it is looking at ways to get the project funded.

The EA was asked why, if the current contractor is busy working on other priority work, an alternative company could not be engaged to complete the work.

The pond

The EA responded: “The existing mechanical contractor framework is due to be decided within the next month or so. Once it is known who the new contractor is for the next five years, it is hoped to engage with them as soon as possible to get the project running.”

In response for an estimate time on when the work is expected to commence, the EA’s response was: “Our current provisional programme would be that we would hope to be on site to complete this work in summer 2024. But this is dependent on getting funding and the resources required.”

Some work to improve the pond area has been taking place this year. Following recommendations from an ecological assessment, tree surgeons have opened up areas around the pond, allowing more light through. The project was funded through South Gloucestershire Council’s Climate and Nature Emergency programme.