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27° Julii, 1927.]
Mr. FREDERICK SANDERSON ROBINS.
move any portion of either of them, or execute any works which will have the effect of raising the tidal water at Earith, unless they have previously given notice of their intention so to do to the Hundred Feet Wash Commissioners,' with certain results to follow ?—Yes.
4551. If you do any work in the Hundred Foot it will have the natural effect of raising the tidal water?-Where will it raise the water?
4552. At Earith-if you do any work? -It will raise tidal high water, yes.
4553. Therefore not only is the Board not proposing to do any work on the Hundred Foot under the Bill, but that clause will prevent them from doing any work in the future?-Yes, I suppose it would. Of course I may say that it is a well-known proposition that you cannot lower tidal low water without raising tidal high water where there is a backfall in the tide; that is to say, where the tide comes up to a certain height and then by friction is stopped from flowing forward, so you have a reverse fall upstream; directly you lower your lowwater level you must raise your tidal high water.
4554. I take it the proper way to perform that operation would be to strengthen and heighten the banks ?-Yes, and if necessary the lock at BluntishamBrownshill Staunch. There are ordinary tidal doors there; they shut when the water is being pressed up by the tide.
4555. Have you worked out figures to show the probable time in which the Wash would fill under their proposals? Yes, I think we all agree with the time of filling up of the Wash, but I am afraid we start from a different level. Mr. Binnie seems to imagine that the Wash will be conveniently empty at the time when his weir starts to come into operation, and therefore he will have four days or three days and some odd hours to take the discharge. Of course as a matter of fact a certain level of the Wash must be filled up with the first run of the weir, or, as it is at the present moment, with the Seven Holes Sluice, so you can reckon, I think, that instead of starting with 108 feet at, say, the Seven Holes Sluice cill level and the 106 feet-I am speaking now of R.D. reference datum-8 feet at Seven Holes and 6 feet Ordnance datum at Welmore Lake Sluice levels, you will have to start from somewhere about 9 feet Ordnance datum. I am afraid I am getting rather
involved. The Wash has a fall of 10 feet to 6 feet from one end to the other. All the calculations that have been made for the time limit of filling up the Wash have been taken assuming the Wash is absolutely empty. We get one rain following another, as I think you will see from those diagrams, especially in 1927. You get there two pinnacles in April. It depends entirely on the rainfall as to the time you have to obliterate all the water from the Wash. If there is no time between two heavy rainfalls you must have a certain amount of the Wash already filled. It is conjectural to say what that would be, but I think it is possible to assume it would be 9 feet. For 9 feet you are going to take away somewhere about 14 days off your four days storage capacity. A day and a half off your four days' storage capacity only leaves you 2 days for the whole of the water coming over the weir. Directly it rises up to 14.6, as we get at the present time, we are in the same difficulty as we are now. Our Washlands are filled up, our water level at Earith is exactly the same, and we have had no advantage for the very great amount of money that has been spent on the scheme. I do not know if that is quite clear.
4556. Yes. The whole point is that you cannot evacuate all the water.
4557. You promised to come back when you were dealing with the Washlands to the Cradge Bank proposals; we have it in the evidence that they are proposing to raise the existing Cradge Bank to 115? -Yes.
4558. The effect of that would be, would it not, to make the position still worse? Yes, because I think directly you get up to your Washland area-I am assuming now you have your Cradge Bank up to 15 feet, and you are going to have the sluice which is to be set down at a certain level, that is to say, the Middle Level proposal. If you have a proposal of that description, you are going to force all your water down through the river, which is now inadequate to take even one-fourth or onethird the quantity of discharge; naturally, you will want more fall down the Hundred Foot River to pass that water away, and you will be raising the flood level at Earith, and also further up the Ouse.
4559. So may we take it like this, that you think that the present state of affairs
4562. The last work I wanted to take you to, to ask you to give your view to the Committee upon, was Welmore Lake Sluice. You have heard, in general terms, the proposal there is to put a sluice which can be controlled in order to allow the waters from the Cam to get away in priority?—Yes.
4563. Would you give the Committee your views on that work?-In any event the closing of any sluice is wrong from the drainage point of view, but I go further than that, and I say it is absolutely impossible to prognosticate at what moment such a sluice should be shut down. If the Committee will look at those diagrams they will see the manner in which the tidal low water at Denver rises and falls. That is not due alto
gether to neaps and springs. It is simply due to an extra amount of flood water running down from all parts of the district and filling up the main channel of the Ouse. A great point in the diagram is the rapid rise of the water from a low level to its highest peak, and the slow falling away from the peak to its lowest level after the flood has gone. Now, the whole point hinges upon what moment is it anticipated that the discharge through Welmore Lake Sluice will obstruct the flow out of Denver Sluice. If the doors are closed too early there is an accumulation of water in the Washes unnecessary from the Promoters' point of view, but, unfortunately it will have to remain there when the peak of Denver Sluice rises to its maximum. There is no chance of getting rid of it in the meantime, and unless you had some automatic control, electrical control, that when the water rose to a certain height we will say in Welmore Lake Sluice the doors should be shut or, on the other hand, that when it rose to a certain height in Denver
Sluice, the Welmore Lake Sluice doors should be shut, I cannot see that any individual can prognosticate the moment when the doors should be closed. I should like to correct one remark in one of your questions about the 12.5 above Welmore Lake Sluice. I want to point out that 12.5 is not immediately above Welmore Lake Sluice. It is the mean level in the centre of the Lake of the Wash.
4564. I was coming to that. I think your proposal was that if this sluice at Welmore Lake Sluice is persisted in, although you think it is a bad thing, you think some statutory provision should be made whereby the sluice should be opened when the water behind has reached a certain level?—Yes.
4565. The level of 12.4?-That is at Earith to open the Welmore Lake Sluice.
4566. To open the Welmore Lake Sluice when the water at Earith is at 12.4?Yes, their proposal is that 12.4 is the mean depth of water in the Washes, but I say the mean level of 12.4 means 15 feet at Earith. That is no good to us. We want the doors to be opened when the water rises to 12.4 or 12.5 at Earith.
4567. I think you base that figure, accepting the figures Mr. Binnie gave, as being the maximum height of the water in the Wash under his scheme?We have to accept that. Mr. Binnie's evidence was not very clear on that point.
4568. What is your view of the state of affairs, if we are bound to have this sluice, and there is no statutory provision for its opening or closing?-I have tried to point out now that the sluice may be shut so early that with no chance of drawing it again before Denver water has arrived at the peak, that instead of being held up for the two days Mr. Binnie speaks of, we may have our water shut down for a week, probably, and the Washes will be filled.
27° Julii, 1927.]
Mr. FREDERICK SANDERSON ROBINS.
4569. That depends entirely on the convenience of the Fen-men-And the operator.
4570. We know the operator will be substantially a Fen-man?--Yes.
4571. There are two other points I want to deal with. When you were
dealing with the advantages of having a single channel-you said that was the main principle of Inland drainage-I do not think you pointed out to the Committee there was an additional advantage to be derived from that, namely, the scour? That is, of course, the main advantage. There are two advantages, one, the reduction of the friction. The smaller the sectional area of the River, the greater must be the fall per mile to discharge a given quantity of water. If you have several small channels, you can do with one channel not as large as all of them added together. The scour will be very much greater, although the fall per mile, the friction in that channel, will be very much less. I then come to the point that that is acknowledged by the Promoters up to and including Denver sluice. They say, Yes, we have a terrible friction all up the river, and we must lower low water level at Denver so as to let out Denver water freely," but they stop there. Instead of saying those principles must be continued for any type of drainage, they deny us the right to have the same advantage, lower low water and a greater discharge, and lower low water at Earith, that they claim for the Ten Mile River.
4572. Thereby they also lose this advantage of the scour through the Hundred Foot?-Yes, they are turning it into the Wash. I might say there further, that in all general schemes you put your surplus water over a waste weir, but here they are taking the 1,500 cusecs down the Hundred Foot River, but strangely enough they are running 4,700 cusecs, the surplus, into the Wash. The ordinary man would say, "We will send the 4,700 down the channel and if a small surplus comes, we will send the small surplus of 1,500 cusecs into the reservoir," and under those circumstances the reservoir would hold three or four times the number of days' storage.
4573. That was the original scheme?Yes.
4574. To sum it up shortly, you say that the Bill ought to make provision for
going back to that original scheme?-I think so. I think that is the only proper course from a drainage point of view. Cross-examined by Mr. H. P. MACMILLAN.
4575. How many Inquiries into the Ouse drainage system have you taken part in? I would not be certain-about 5 or 6, one or another.
4576. What works have been carried out upon the Ouse as a consequence of those Inquiries?—I think there has been a certain amount of dredging. I think some of it has been hedge-hog dredging.
4577. Has there been anything substantial done in the way of works?—It depends what you call substantial.
4578. Has any scheme for the re-constitution of the system been carried out? -I hardly follow your question.
4579. Never mind? Will you specify?
4580. I will put the point in another way. Have these Inquiries been productive of any practical consequences?—In the South Level I believe they have, but I have not observed any very special improvement in the River Ouse itself up to Denver.
4581. Why has it been necessary to hold five or six Inquiries?-I think to a great extent, first of all, we had a red herring of a sluice at Free Bridge drawn across the trail of Mr. Case's scheme which was following on exactly the same lines as Wheeler's, in 1884. That was thrown out, or rather nothing came of that Inquiry. In 1918 and then in 1920 we had another scheme to try I think and co-ordinate all the objections of the various districts, but in that 1920 scheme there was no finance. We were not allowed to give any evidence on finance, we were not allowed to give any evidence on works, and it came down to this, that there was a Coalition Government then in power and the whole thing was cut and dried to try and get something done in the district, and at that time the Promoters were given a free hand practically, or the Ouse Board were given a free hand, to do what they liked subsequently.
4582. Is not the upshot of the whole matter this, that it has not been possible to do anything, because it has been impossible to achieve agreement among all the different interests involved?-Yes, I am perfectly prepared to agree to that.
4583. And in a state of matters where very divergent views are entertained you would not, I suppose, maintain that
27 Julii, 1927.]
Mr. FREDERICK SANDERSON ROBINS.
nothing should be done because of those divergences of view?-No, but what I do say is this, that if the upper districts are going to be forced, or supposing they say they will pay towards the works below Denver Sluice, I think that they should have the advantage of a free discharge at Welmore Lake Sluice, and to take some of the increased sectional area of the tidal portion of the River to their own advantage for the passing away of their water, and that the South Level should not claim the whole of it until their water has gone away. It seems iniquitous to me that that should be the position.
4584. But you would not suggest that nothing should be done, because of the divergent views which have been entertained?-No.
4585. Will you look at the position I represent sympathetically for a moment? In the multitude of Counsellors, among whom you are one of the most distinguished. Thank you.
4586. It is necessary to select one or other of the views unless you are to be paralysed altogether?-Yes, but may I make a remark on that and that is that there is such a thing as getting your Counsellors into agreement and then taking their considered opinion.
4587. Yes. If you rush a Bill through in the manner in which this one has been rushed through
4588. You think we are rushing this through? I think so.
4589. I had not noticed any remarkable expedition. We are at the 11th Day of the Inquiry. If that is the speed in the Ouse Valley?—I am speaking of the work before the Inquiry.
4590. You are now before a Joint Committee of both Houses. What I ask is, if you can put yourself in the position of a person who is urged to do something, but is urged to do a very different variety of different things by different persons, what is your solution for that difficulty?-My solution is that the evidence has been put before the Committee and they will judge between us.
4591. I think that is a most correct answer. In this matter I say without any offence whatever, your solution is that the Committee should be guided rather by Mr. Robin's advice than by Mr. Binnie's advice?-I hope that will
4592. Nothing could be better. Is Huntingdon, as a County, suffering in
4595. You are suffering?-It is holding up the water.
4596. In what respect are you suffering in the present state of matters?—Simply because the Hundred Foot is not of its old size for taking away the water.
4597. Are you suffering in the shape of flooding? Yes, I take it we are.
4598. It cannot be a question of taking it? We are.
4599. I am looking at your plan. Here is a County and I am asking you this question: Here is a state of matters lower down the River. Are you, at this moment, suffering in any way from the condition, neglected or otherwise, of the River below you? Are you being flooded or your crops carried away?—Yes, I will say yes.
4600. You are very hesitating?—No, I am not hesitating. I am not fearing any trap or anything like that; I only want my answer to be right. The whole district is suffering.
4601. Huntingdon is suffering?—Yes, but I must confine my remarks as to suffering from the works down below to that portion of Huntingdon which is being brought into the 6d. district. Do not mistake me that I go up to 150 feet high; I am not following you there. 5,000 acres are my instructions, the new area which is being added to the 6d. district.
4602. According to my learned friend's statement the 6d. area embraces 50,000 acres of Huntingdon ?—I do not think we can be speaking of the same district. Mr. Macmillan.] That is right, is not it ?
Mr. Van den Berg.
4603. Yes. A great deal of that area is included in the Middle Level.
4604. You are quite right, but it is in Huntingdon?-You are asking me questions I cannot answer yes or no.
27° Julii, 1927.]
Mr. FREDERICK SANDERSON ROBINS.
4605. Let me try it again in another form which I think perhaps you can answer. Take any part of Huntingdon, the actual territory of your County at the moment. Is any part of it actually suffering by the existing state of the works?—Yes, the Bluntisham district.
4606. In what way is it suffering?— Because of recent years-I say recent years, but within the memory of living man-the sides of the channel of the Hundred Foot River have so grown up that whereas what were called the Southern Lands 50 years ago were free of rushes and were good pasture, today are growing what you may term wet weeds, and growth, rushes and so on.
4607. So it is suffering by the water not getting away?-Certainly.
4608. Then you recognise it would be to the advantage of Huntingdon, so far at any rate as that part of the area is concerned, if works were devised which would facilitate the water getting away? -Yes.
4609. Is the interest of Huntingdon in the mode of execution of the proposed works confined to that very limited area of Huntingdon ?-I would differentiate between the Uplands and this area below 20 feet contour. If I may be allowed to do that I will say yes-limited to that small area.
4610. May I take it you are not content with the present conditions ?— No, I do not think you can take that as an answer. What I said in my evidence was that so long as we had the protection of the old Statute which provided for the cleansing of the Hundred Foot River, we were perfectly content to let the Seven Holes Sluice remain as it is, the Cradge Bank to remain as it is, and Welmore Lake Sluice, subject to the Wash people requiring the Sluice to be repaired so that the sea water did not find its way underneath its foundations, then we were perfectly satisfied with the works as they are.
4611. Would you wish the Ouse to be left as it is rather than that the works proposed in this Bill should be carried out? I think if I may make a rather lengthy answer to that, in the Hundred Foot River we have got at least 10 feet fall from low water level at Denver to the low water level, which does not vary in flood time, at Earith. Any surging of the waters as between Denver Sluice and the discharge through Welmore Lake Sluice and ourselves will have little or
no effect at Earith so far as we are concerned, but we recognise that we cannot get a proper discharge through the Hundred Foot River unless a lower low level water is induced right away up as far as Earith. I do not know if that answers your question, but I have tried to make it so.
4612. Thank you. Would you look at the Bill for a moment, if you have a copy before you?-Yes, I have a copy here.
4613. Look at page 37. You observe there in the Third Schedule a list of "works and matters in respect of the expenses of which a Government contribution is payable "?-Yes.
4614. Let us look at them and take them one by one: "The following works for improving and maintaining the outfall of the river: (a) the dredging and the training of the channel of the river between the north end of the Marsh Cut and Hull Sand Beacon." Do you object to that work?-No; I think it is very essential.
4615. And you wish it carried out ?— Most decidedly; I think any engineer must say so.
4616. Thank you so much; that helps me very much. Let us go to (b), "the dredging, and the protection of the sides, of the Marsh Cut"; do you approve of that?-Certainly.
4617. With the same emphasis?—Yes. 4618. Thank you. "(c) the dredging of the said channel between Fisher Fleet and the lower end of the Eau Brink Cut"?-Yes, agreed.
4619. The dredging, and the protection of the sides of the said channel between the lower end of the Eau Brink Cut and Denver Sluice "?-Agreed.
4620. "The diversion of the river by the construction of a new channel between a point at or near Holly House in the parish of Wiggenhall St. Mary Magdalene in the County of Norfolk and a point 13 chains or thereabouts south of the railway bridge crossing the river between the said parish and the parish of Runcton Holme in the said County, including any incidental works"?Agreed.
4621. Agreed. We are getting on like a house on fire?—Yes.
4622. "The improvement (including the protection of the sides) of the Hundred Foot River between Denver Sluice and Welmore Lake Sluice "?Yes.