Terror threat means tree plans can’t be revealed

The trunks of the trees that have been removed

THE threat of terrorism means that the council cannot reveal details of its plans for reservoir emergencies.

Cllr Parry Batth, the executive member for environment and leisure, was responding to a question about dams. It was asked by resident Jim Murphy at a virtual meeting of Wokingham Borough Council held on Thursday, March 18.

Mr Murphy said he had been horrified at the recent destruction of healthy, mature trees at Gravel Pit Hill Lane and the surrounding area, saying he was unaware that the lake was a category A dam and despite this, he couldn’t find any documentation showing this in the Borough Strategic Flood Risk  Assessment.

“Can you please confirm these plans exist and advise how I can gain access to them?” he asked.

Cllr Batth said that the Environment Agency was responsible for monitoring compliance in England.

“The Environment Agency also holds reservoir flood inundation maps which show the route of flooding if a reservoir dam were to breach,” he said. “These maps are publicly available via the Environment Agency website.”

He added that the council, as a category 1 responder under the Civil Contingencies Act, the council had to hold off-site plans for all the borough’s reservoirs.

“These documents are highly sensitive due to the threat from terrorism. Therefore, they are not publicly available and are exempt from Freedom of Information requests.”

Mr Murphy called for an investigation into the work, which had been undertaken at Bearwood.

Cllr Batth responded, but Mr Murphy was unhappy with the reply, saying “you didn’t answer my question”.

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