ENVIRONMENT AGENCY officials this week ruled out any further works to bring the Jubilee River flood defence channel in Berkshire up to its design capacity.
The £110M channel was severely damaged when used for the first and so far only time in January 2003 and was subsequently found to be significantly under-designed and operating at just two-thirds capacity (NCE 19 August 2004).
Repairs and improvement work since then have brought the channel up to 90% of design capacity and the Agency has now accepted it is impracticable to make any further improvements.
'We've taken it as far as we can without having to justify it as a new project, ' said Agency south east area flood risk manager Ian Tomes.
'Further work would require a new planning application and would have to be separately justifi d under Department for the Environment Food & Rural Affairs regulations, and we have much higher priorities.' The Agency is to unveil plans to alleviate floding to the remainder of the non-tidal River Thames downstream of channel in November.
Residents groups who have campaigned for the channel to be brought up to its full design capacity have vowed to fight on.
'The Agency may think that this matter is ended but it is not, ' said Datchet Parish councillor Ewan Larcombe.
Last week the Agency reached an out of court settlement with the scheme's designers Lewin Fryer & Partners, under which the consultant paid £2.75M towards repairs and improvements (News last week).
The Agency's claim was purely against the scheme's designers.
The Agency described the settlement is 'substantial' contribution to the cost of repairs caused by the design flaws but does not compensate the Agency for the channel's failure to meet its design aims.
'There is nobody to blame [for the channel being under capacity], ' said Tomes. 'It was designed in the early 1990s using the best modelling they had.
'What we have recovered is at the upper end of expectations.'