Tree roots blocking the drains could be behind flooding issues in Saffron Walden

Bridge Street in Saffron Walden.

Bridge Street in Saffron Walden. - Credit: Archant

Engineers from Essex Highways believe there may be tree roots blocking the drains in Saffron Walden’s Bridge Street which will require major road works to remove.

Residents in Bridge Street have sent letters to both Councillor Paul Fairhurst and Essex county councillor John Moran to demand that action be taken to reduce the risk of flooding to their homes.

In a letter to their neighbours, residents David and Madeline Bone said: “I was fortunate enough to speak with the engineers while they were here, and what they told me was extremely worrying.

“They told me that their chief engineer had attended the scene not once, but twice, which is apparently very unusual, and they had never seen him so worried – ‘having kittens’ were the exact words they used.

“They told me the reason why our drains are no longer able to cope with heavy rain is that this collection pipe which channels everything to the slade has been invaded by tree roots and is now almost completely blocked.

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“The work required is very difficult, effectively that whole section of pipe will need to be pulled up, hence the chief engineer’s panic, which will require major earthworks, both in the road and where the blockage is.”

Despite being told the works would now be a high priority, the neighbours said the Essex Highways website states it is not a matter that requires “immediate action”.

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Councillor Kevin Bentley, the deputy leader of Essex County Council, said: “Since the recent flooding in Saffron Walden our highways crews have been working hard to tackle it. They have cleaned drains in Bridge Street, including near the Eight Bells pub. However, we believe that tree roots may be partly blocking the outfall between a number of houses on the opposite side of the road, so some work through a specialist contractor is being planned to rectify this.

“The crews have also jet-cleaned drains in East Street. There are two blockages which require further work, so minimise traffic disruption in the area, we will aim to do this work at the same time as the forthcoming planned pothole works. Drains in Shepherds Way have also been jet-cleaned and all are clear and fully working.

“The most important long-term contribution to flooding in this area is the forthcoming Environment Agency River Slade scheme. Our flood team will be part of scheme which is due to take part later this financial year. They will work to improve the flow of water in the culvert which runs under the town centre, thereby reducing the risk of surface flooding on the roads and people’s homes.”

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