“WHAT’S going on down by the river at Weybridge,” asked my regular contact Doug the Ancient Angler, “and just why have they chopped all the beautiful trees down?”
Doug is talking about the towpath on the southern side of the Thames as it curves round by Shepperton Lock Island right beside Weybridge Ladies’ Amateur Rowing Club.
Doug, it turns out, loves to walk down that bit of towpath – either to fish or just to talk a stroll on a sunny day but in the past couple of weeks he has been dismayed to see between 25 and 30 tree stumps beside the bank where, apparently, somebody has just run amok with a chain saw.
The answer, for Doug and all those other local residents who wondered at the arboreal carnage, is that the Environment Agency in their infinite wisdom has decided to modernise the river bank between the car park just off Walton Lane and what most people refer to as the ‘Chinese bridge’ which crosses Desborough Cut joining D’Oyley Carte Island to the southern bank.
The Agency is to build a new concrete mooring for boats and, as part of the project, will smooth out the top of the bank providing more access to the riverside for the disabled. The work on construction should start early in 2010, I’m told.
Now as a boat owner, I applaud any move that will provide a greater number of moorings because our stretch of the Thames is not particularly well-served with such facilities. Apart from the lock cuts – where you can only moor up whilst waiting for the lock to open – and one or two existing public moorings like the one at Shepperton opposite Desborough Island, there are very few public places where you can moor a boat. So from that point of view, well done to the EA.
But was it really necessary to hack down so many stately trees in the process?
I’m sure disabled people would have been equally appreciative if the agency had simply made things easier for them by providing a paved pathway along that stretch of the Thames allowing them to take a wheelchair close to the water.
Jessica Nolan from Weybridge Ladies ARC told me that there were consultations with the EA over the plan – but it was clear that it was going to go ahead despite any local objections.
Perhaps it would have been helpful if the Environment Agency planners had had the courtesy to let us know at the Herald so that we could have publicised the idea and sparked a proper debate about it… What do you think?
THERE’S going to be a public announcement about the introduction of Project Kraken – the new policing initiative for the Thames in Surrey – in the next two or three weeks and from what I’ve already heard, it’s going to contain some encouraging news. As soon as I can, I’ll bring that to you.