I have been made aware, from previous Clare Town Council meetings and a recent on site meeting with the owner, of issues with the Clare Sluice.
It seems, whilst the sluice itself is working fine, water is working itself through the bank causing sink holes and weakening the buttresses. This is undermining the structure of the sluice itself and is likely to lead to a catastrophic failure resulting in the river level dropping significantly.
The sluice keeps the Stour and Chiltern stream full as they pass Clare. This supports wild life and has a calming effect especially for visitors to Clare Country Park. A full river is a happy river, if you ask the fish.
The Clare River group are a great help and manage the gates ie lifting and clearing them as necessary and have been for six years.
It seems the Environment Agency want the sluice to disintegrate – one less issue to worry about. They have declared they want the river to go back to the 12th century but they do maintain similar structures where they have a duty to maintain them. The Environment Agency use the river as a conduit for the commercial operation of filling Abberton and Hanningfield reservoirs but do not pay any damages to the river as a result of this operation. For many years they paid for the maintenance of the sluice but in recent years have decided not to.
The sluice gates are not part of the domestic house flood defence mechanism. The water meadows are the relief mechanism. They need to be lifted in times of flood to minimise flooding to the golf course, Priory grounds and Country Park.
So what can be done? I’m no building expert but I suspect a couple of tons of cement in the sink holes and some metal plates providing protection upstream might slow down the problem and buy time for a solution. I’m guessing a few thousand verses £100k if it all collapses or a babbling brook running through Clare.