21st Oct, 2019

Residents fear dam's collapse at Earlswood Lakes

Felix Nobes 5th Sep, 2019 Updated: 5th Sep, 2019

RESIDENTS near Earlswood Lakes in Solihull have called for assurances amid fears of floods and dam deterioration.

Mark Franks – who lives in Malthouse Lane – spoke to us in the wake of the Whaley Bridge dam scare in Derby.

He said he was concerned that poor maintenance could lead to a breach at the causeway separating the lakes from homes below.

We have heard from worried residents who allege that Malthouse Lane – above the causeway and between the two lakes – is being used by heavy vehicles, and is often congested, despite a 2.5-ton weight restriction being in place.

Mr Franks along with other residents have called for the road across the top of the dam to be closed.

They say this will mitigate any further erosion – after landslips at two large sections of the dam last May.

But authorities have been unequivocal in ruling out safety concerns, saying that regular inspections are carried out.

The Canal and River Trust is ultimately responsible for maintaining the lakes, while the Environment Agency is the enforcement body.

Mr Franks said: “The dam is the same design as that at Whaley Bridge, a puddle clay core dam, but is almost 20 years older.

“My concern is that the Canal and River Trust is neglecting the maintenance of the dam, along with ignoring calls of concern from local residents that use of the road across the top of the dam is leading to increased erosion of the substructure.

“There is a signed weight limit of 2.5 tons, however vehicles far heavier than that regularly use the dam roadway.

“Earlier this year, the trust drilled bore holes to monitor the movement of the dam.

“Thus proving to residents that the dam is indeed suffering from erosion, wear and tear, and movement.

“There are a number of residents living directly under the glare of the 200-year-old dam.

“They would be in the direct path of flood water released from the dam.”

Mr Franks told us the May landslips led to Malthouse Lane being closed for months.

Regional director at the trust Adnan Saif: “I’d like to assure residents that there are regular inspections and maintenance at Earlswood Reservoir.

“In England, maintenance of reservoirs is highly regulated with all identified works having to be undertaken by law.

“The trust’s specialists are carrying out investigations as part of that stringent inspection and maintenance regime.

“I can assure residents that there aren’t any concerns about the weight of vehicles using the road.”

Malthouse Lane resident Jenni Oates said: “Last year there was a big landslip and it was just absolute chaos.

“For hours on end there were no authorities who came out to sort it out and it was down to residents to divert the traffic.

“It was extremely dangerous and it was very lucky that nobody got hurt or killed when it collapsed.

“I am deeply concerned the road remains open. Every single day there are loads of overweight vehicles and cars going over it – even lorries.”

An anonymous resident told us: “I have passed photographs on to the residents’ association and the police showing overweight vehicles using the road – and I really feel the road should be shut.”

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “Reservoirs in England have an excellent safety record.

“There is a robust regulatory regime in place, requiring reservoir owners to carry out regular inspections, backed up by independent inspections.

“We will take action to make a reservoir safe if we believe it poses a danger to the public.”

Online Editions

Catch up on your local news by reading our e-editions on the Solihull Observer.

Printing

We can provide all of your printing needs at competitive rates.

Public Notices

View and download all of the public notices in the Solihull Observer.

Buy Photos

Buy photos online from the Solihull Observer newspaper.