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14 Julii, 1927.]
Mr. WILLIAM JAMES EAMES BINNIE.
676. You are quite clear that the Uplanders did not need any of these works if they were left to their own natural resources to get rid of their water?Yes.
677. You have told us in your Report that there was consistent neglect of those works. Whose neglect was that?—It was lack of money that brought it about, I think.
678. Is the consistent neglect that of the Fenmen?-Of the various bodies, yes.
679. For instance, to take an example, take the Hundred Foot River. It was the duty of the Bedford Level Corporation to keep up that river?—Yes.
680. And later, it was the duty of their successors?-Yes.
681. We will not come at once to the justice of the scheme, but under your scheme people like Huntingdon have to pay for works, firstly, which were constructed entirely for the benefit of the Fenmen, and secondly, which the Fenmen themselves consistently neglected. That is so as a matter of history, is it not?-Yes.
682. Sir Cornelius Vermuyden was very great engineer on this question?Yes.
683. I do not suppose you would wish to do anything that he would not have done? Oh, no, I would not go as far as that.
684. You would not go as far as that? -Surely knowledge does advance with the centuries.
635. It is literally true to say, is it not -if necessary I must prove it-that you are scrapping Vermuyden's foundations and his original scheme?-Instead of doing that I am trying to revert to the use of the Washlands to a greater extent for the disposal of flood water.
686. If you could answer that question I would very much like to have an answer. Is it true to say that you are really departing entirely from the foundations that Vermuyden laid down?No, I should say that was directly untrue.
687. Is it true to say that you are not in your present scheme building upon Vermuyden's foundations?—I do not understand what the meaning of that question is.
688. Vermuyden laid down certain foundations, did he not?-He constructed certain channels.
689. Very well. Vermuyden constructed certain channels which he con
sidered essential for the protection of the Uplanders. Is not that so?-I do not think he considered it essential for the protection of the Uplanders.
690. What do you think he constructed the Hundred Foot River for?-I should think he constructed a system of rivers and put up these banks to prevent the flood water escaping on to the Fens on either side.
Mr. Macmillan.] I am quite prepared to take your formal question, "For the protection of the Uplanders."
Mr. Van Den Berg.
691. I am afraid I made a mistake. I was rather inaccurate about that. What I meant to say was the Hundred Foot River was constructed for the protection of the Fens?-I should have thought so.
692. It is a 25-mile river, is it not?No, it is not so long as that.
693. 22 miles ?-About that.
694. Under your scheme you are not going to do anything at all to it except to the extent of about 2 miles. Is not that so? That is so.
695. The Hundred Foot River is at the moment in a state of neglect and disrepair?-No.
696. It is in a bad state?--No, except Welmore Lake Sluice and Denver Sluice which are very bad.
697. Due entirely to this consistent neglect of which you have spoken in your Report?-That, combined with the heavy discharge of wash water through Welmore Lake Sluice on the Hundred banks.
698. No part of the Hundred Foot River is in the state in which it was when it was built, or anything like it? -Nobody has any record as to the state the Hundred Foot River was in when it was constructed.
699. Under scheme-we in your Huntingdon regard this as vital-you are departing from the Hundred Foot River as the main channel for getting rid of the water? That is untrue. Hundred Foot River will be used to exactly the same extent as to-day; in fact more so; because under this scheme we propose to raise the Cradge bank from 134 to 15, which will have the effect of confining more water in the Hundred Foot River than flows down it to-day. That water cannot get down the Hundred Foot River to-day, and overflows the Cradge Bank on to the Wash
14° Julii, 1927.] Mr. WILLIAM JAMES EAMES BINNIE.
lands. The difference in level between 134 and 15 represents a certain increase of discharge which will be sent on the Hundred Foot River.
700. Let me test that. First of all, you know Sir John Rennie was one of the authorities in addition to Vermuyden who was very keen on the maintenance of the Hundred Foot River as the main channel? I forget what his Report is. I will take it from you.
701. In addition to Vermuyden and Sir John Rennie, there are Mr. Wheeler and Mr. Preston. They all put the Hundred Foot River in the forefront of their Reports, do they not?-I dare say they may have done, but we are not going to do anything to interfere with that.
702. You have not put it in the forefront? I have not, for the reasons which I gave. I think it would be a colossal mistake to enlarge that river so as to get the coincidence of floods coming down from the Denver Sluice, for one reason because the enlargement of that river will tend to raise the water level at high tide and make the floods worse than to-day.
703. You departing from are the principles laid down, as I understand it, by Vermuyden and Rennie, Wheeler and Preston, that the Hundred Foot River should be in the forefront of any scheme for the improvement of this river?-Weli, I do not know where you will find that Vermuyden put it in the forefront. If you will draw my attention to certain passages I shall be glad. I cannot say yes to a general question.
704. This is what Mr. Preston said in 1918 in effect. I am having the actual words looked up, and I will give them to you in a moment. He said, in effect, the Hundred Foot River should be put into thoroughly good order and so maintained.
That was as recently as 1918? -What are we going to do? Do we suggest in our Report that the Hundred Foot River is not going to be maintained?
705. May we take the first point"should be put into thoroughly good order "? Are you going to put the Hundred Foot River into thoroughly good order?-Yes. I have already said that we examined the banks from Welmore Lake Sluice upwards and came to the conclusion that the banks were in very fair condition. Therefore we did not want to spend money unnecessarily.
I have put in figures to-day to show that instead of silting up, that channel is actually improving.
706. I have now in inverted commas the exact words given to me. What Mr. Preston said was: "The Hundred Foot River be put into thoroughly good order and hereafter maintained in that condition with the view of getting rain water away quickly to the outfall."-If he means more quickly than it is being done to-day, then I say it is a mistake.
707. Let us go by stages. Huntingdon attach the greatest importance to the maintenance and repair of the Hundred Foot River. We are going to ask the Committee to say that any scheme should include that as a matter of elementary justice to us. We must get the facts quite clearly. The Hundred Foot River at this moment is not in good order, is it?—I disagree. Between Welmore Lake Sluice and Denver Sluice I agree; above Welmore Lake Sluice I disagree. I have Isaid that about four times.
708. One moment you say it is in good condition, and the next moment you say it is in very fair condition. Which is it? It is in such order that the Commission came to the conclusion that there was no necessity to spend money on it.
709. For all time?-No, not for all time. Of course, the thing will have to be maintained like any other thing.
710. Have you made any provision in your scheme at all for the maintenance of the Hundred Foot River apart from those two miles I have referred to?The scheme I have put before you does not cover maintenance at all. It deals with the capital expenditure, to which the State were then ready to contribute.
711. So that if the Hundred Foot River is left without any money being spent on it at all, as we fear, it will silt up in the course of some years?-There I entirely disagree with you. I have put in the figures, which show that, instead of silting up, the bed is going down.
712. Do not get in the least annoyed with me, because I am going to call expert witnesses to support the points I am putting to you, and I want you to deal with them?-Whatever experts you may call, we have got the sections taken of that river on different occasions. I know it is contrary to fact that the river is silting up.
14° Julii, 1927.]
Mr. WILLIAM JAMES EAMES BINNIE.
713. If it is not necessary at this date to do anything to the Hundred Foot River at all to put it in good order, how came it that as the result of a very long inquiry by Mr. Preston the very thing he recommended was that the river should be put in thoroughly good order? He must have taken the view that it was not in good order?-I cannot go over the ground over and over again. I can only repeat what I have said six times over.
714. I am afraid it has not conveyed very much to me on this point, because I am suggesting to you that the Hundred Foot River requires to be put in good order?—I keep on saying it does not.
Chairman.] I think you have had your
Witness.] You have had your answer about six times.
Mr. Van Den Berg.
715. Would you agree with me that the Hundred Foot River is a very important artery in this whole question?-Yes.
716. Therefore it is vital for this Committee to know what its condition is at this moment?-Yes.
717. If I call evidence to show that it is in an unsatisfactory condition, and that evidence is accepted by the Committee, it would be entirely contrary to what you are saying, would it not? I guard myself. I have already said the portion below Welmore Lake Sluice is unsatisfactory.
718. You know perfectly well-at least I hope I made it clear-that I was talking about the other part of the river. That you say is in very fair condition? -Yes.
719. That will be a matter of evidence. Let me pass from the Hundred Foot River to the weir which you propose to build. The land between the Old and New Bedford River is called the Washes, is it not?—Yes.
720. That land was intended by Vermuyden as overflow accommodation?Yes.
721. The water on the Washes drains, does it not, through Welmore Lake Sluice and back into the Hundred Foot River?-Yes.
722. The Washland became valuable, did it not, and for its protection the Seven Holes Sluice was built. Is not that so? Somebody put up the cradge
bank along it to keep the water off it. They got powers for it in 1812, I think. Then the water was admitted through the sluices under certain regulations as to level.
723. Under the statute that prevails the gates have to be drawn at certain statutory periods, have they not?-Yes, that is so.
724. Do you regard it as a great injustice to Huntingdon that that sluice should be taken away and the weir constructed in its stead?-I have just put in figures to show that instead of being a great injustice to Huntingdon you will have a lower-water level in the river during flood time.
725. Let us look at one or two figures. Under the statute the gates were drawn when the water gets to 11.74 in winter and 13.74 in summer. Would that be correct? Will you just check those figures? Yes, that is right.
726. The object of that was, was it not, to protect the Washlands during the valuable feeding months?—Yes.
727. Now in place of the Seven Holes Sluice under which we had statutory protection, you are going to erect a fixed weir, are you not?-Yes, that was the proposal.
728. You say it very hesitatingly. That was the proposal. If you would agree with me that that proposal ought to be abandoned then I need not ask you anything more about it. It is not a satisfactory proposal, is it? I think it is far and away the best way of dealing with it that it should automatically overflow a weir when it gets a certain height. But if you prefer to enlarge the sluices it would effect the same object provided proper channels were constructed to carry off the water from the Washlands rapidly enough and not leave them submerged for weeks as at the present time.
729. At any rate I gather you are not wedded to the weir, and you are prepared to strike that out of your scheme? -It struck us as the most practical way of dealing with it. What we found was that there was the most complicated system imaginable for working that sluice under the Act. There was one part-time man looking after it, and no one at night to open or close it and in case a flood came down it would have to go over the cradge bank before there was any relief. How is that going to benefit Huntingdon up the river?
14° Julii, 1927.]
Mr. WILLIAM JAMES EAMES BINNIE.
732. The alternative you suggest as equally suitable would be the retention of the sluice enlarged, and properly worked, if I understood you aright?-Of course the Ministry go a great deal further than that. They propose to do a lot of benefit to the Washlands, to get that water away quickly. It is a pure question of getting it on and getting it off.
733. I do not think you understand. What I want to get perfectly clearly is, what are you prepared to accept if the weir goes out of your scheme?-I. do not come here as anybody but a Member of the Commission. If you wish to put any proposals forward, they ought go to the representative of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.
734. But, in your own opinion there would be no harm in allowing the sluice to remain, if enlarged and properly worked? I will not say there would be no harm in allowing the sluice to remain, because the sluice is inadequate in size. I am trying to do this to do good to your clients. If you have a small hole to admit water on to the flood land, naturally the water must get higher on the top.
735. Then my clients must be stupid. They must be stupid if they
think that more water can be got through a small hole than a large hole.
736. Is not that very much like the juryman who said he had never seen 11 such obstinate men in all his life? Let me ask you one question about the weir to show you one of our objections. In your Report, page 12, you deal with the weir. From that it seems to us that your weir cannot be less than 13·74 in height. Is that correct?-I gave the crest level of the weir.
737. We cannot follow it?-I have given that diagram showing the highest level of flood is 13:65. That is not the crest level of the weir.
738. I prefer to look at your Report which has been put in as the textbook in the case. At page 12 of your Report, Section 36, you say this: We recommend that Seven Holes Sluice and Bridge should be pulled down, and that an enlargement of the old Bedford River should be made to lead the bulk of the flood water to a weir of such a length that the level of water flowing over it would only vary within narrow limits, the crest being at such a level that there would be no increased risk of inundation of the Washlands during the summer months.' We cannot understand you can no doubt explain-how the figure can be less than 13.74 having regard to the figure I have given where we had the 13.74 as the statutory figure in summer. That is to say, if you make your weir less than 1374, how can you comply with the statement in your Report that "there would be no increased risk of inundation of the Washlands during the summer months "?-I have given the crest level of the weir as 13.65 by ordnance datum. I pointed out that it is 1.09 below that drawing mark. I then analysed what that was going to have on the number of overflows which would take place on the Washlands, and I said it mounted to about one in every 10 years. That represents the increased number of flows to the Washlands. On the other hand, the proposals are to construct channels to convey that away very much more rapidly, so that the Washlands are cleared of water rapidly instead of its lying on them for weeks.
739. I follow that, but it does not seem to me quite to answer the question I put? Well, it says here no creased risk of inundation." words " no increased" are used. That should be qualified by the statement that
14° Julii, 1927.] Mr. WILLIAM JAMES EAMES BINNIE.
I think the risk is once in 10 years they may get an overflow which they would not otherwise get.
740. I thought your figure would have to be altered, or the Report qualified? -The word no is qualified to that extent. I do think there is a risk once in about 10 years that there might be a little water getting on to the Washlands.
741. You put forward to the Committee that this weir is an advantage to me? Yes.
742. I am suggesting to you the converse case. I want to establish it if I can. Let me see how it works out. Take the hypothetical figure of 13.74?Do you mean for the level of the crest of my weir?
743. I will take your own figure?Would you take 12·65?
744. There is still a substantial margin between 1174 and 12:65?—Yes.
745. It works out in this way. If you have a fixed weir instead of a sluice which can be worked, you are damming up against me during certain periods of the year that additional quantity of water represented by the difference between 11-74 and 1265. And that during the worst period of the year?—Oh, no. To show how false an assumption that would be I quote the actual figures of what took place during the flood at the beginning of this year, when it rose to over 14 feet at Earith; although you had the advantage of that due to the small orifice for letting it on, and it was then overflowing the cradge bank as it could not get through. It is no good having a drawing mark unless you have an adequate space. If the weir had been there instead of rising to that level, it would not have risen to it within about 10 inches. That was given in evidencein-chief when dealing with the flood.
746. Let us take it in pieces. I should have thought this piece was so plain Here you put a fixed weir at a height of 12.65 against a sluice which can be operated at 14.74?-When the water rises to 11.74.
747. With your fixed weir it is obvious that the water cannot begin to discharge except over the lip of the weir?--Yes.
748. Winter time is the worst time? -There are more floods in the winter than in the summer, yes.
749. So that at the time when there are more floods than in summer you are putting up for my benefit a fixed con
struction over which the water cannot discharge till it reaches 12.65 to take your figure-and therefore it follows of necessity, does it not, that at that time of the year you are damming up against the difference between those two figures. Can you give me any answer to that? I will give the answer. You can begin to discharge at 11.74. Supposing you have a considerably smaller hole to get the water through, you have to put what is ahead of it. Therefore the drawing mark of 11.74 is not the measure of the height of the water in Earith at all.
750. Let me show you another great advantage from your weir which you have put forward is for my benefit. Surely the existence of that weir must affect the rate of discharge because the capacity of discharge will be limited to the width of the weir? The length of it, do you mean?
751. We will call it the length.-Well, it is 2,000 feet in length.
752. My Engineer makes a very strong point of this, and I have to bring it before the Committee. At the moment we have a cradge bank as the area of discharge? Yes.
753. Could you give me the length of the cradge bank?-The cradge bank runs all along the side. Do you mean the portion which is under statutory regulations?
754. I think two miles would be the statutory length? From Sutton Gault to Earith.
755. I am told the length is nearly four miles?-I do not know. I will look that
750. I wonder whether you have ever thought about this point, because we attach importance to it. If you compare the discharge in that area with the discharge limited to the length of your weir, that is going to make a great difference to the discharge?-What has your Engineer taken as being the height of the cradge bank? I have already shown that we have had lengths taken and it is about 18 inches above its statutory height.
757. He has taken 13.9 for a length of four miles.-I have the actual levels taken along it. It only held good at ore point. You put it to me that the top of that cradge bank is 13.9?
758. Yes? The lowest I have here is about 13.71, and the highest is 15.80 in places.