St Albans allotment plot owners ‘devastated’ by severe flooding

PUBLISHED: 15:05 19 August 2020 | UPDATED: 09:42 20 August 2020

Work of plot owners at the Burydell Lane allotments in St Albans has been destroyed by flooding, Picture: Kim Scrivener

Work of plot owners at the Burydell Lane allotments in St Albans has been destroyed by flooding, Picture: Kim Scrivener

Archant

Following an intense heatwave endured by many of us across the UK, the heavens have finally opened, unleashing heavy rainfall over the last few days – which is set to continue.

Burydell Lane allotment chair Kim Scrivener has been in touch with St Albans Council, Affinty Water and Environmental Health and hopes to fix the problem as soon as possible, despite this year's harvest being destroyed. Picture: Kim ScrivenerBurydell Lane allotment chair Kim Scrivener has been in touch with St Albans Council, Affinty Water and Environmental Health and hopes to fix the problem as soon as possible, despite this year's harvest being destroyed. Picture: Kim Scrivener

This extreme amount of rain and – according to some plot holders – work on the nearby River Ver, has devastated a St Albans allotment, leaving much of the plants, vegetables and flowers under water.

One keen gardener, Damien Rodwell-Davies, has described the flooding at Burydell Allotments in Park Street as “catastrophic”.

He said: “I have held an allotment for three years and this has not happened before during my time here, despite last winter being one of the wettest in recent years.

“I do not think this can simply be put down to unusual weather conditions, although they have certainly played their part.

Keen gardeners are devastated and heartbroken as many greenhouses and plots have been destoyed by water at the Burydell Lane allotment in St Albans. Picture: Kim ScrivenerKeen gardeners are devastated and heartbroken as many greenhouses and plots have been destoyed by water at the Burydell Lane allotment in St Albans. Picture: Kim Scrivener

“Narrowing of the river has been exacerbated by the build-up of vegetation that previously would have been grazed by cattle. This vegetation is now clogging the river and causing it to burst its banks. Once over the banks, the water floods downhill and directly onto the allotment site.

“I have spent hundreds of hours working on my plot this year, as have many others on the site and to see all of this hard work ruined is heartbreaking, particularly as now is the peak of the harvest season.

“Many of the plants will simply not survive the flood and those that do could be contaminated and are therefore not safe to eat. Having spent so much time and not an insignificant amount of money, I am devastated.

“I feel let down that I am renting this site to grow food for my family and it has all now been taken away. Particularly pertinent to this year, this produce has allowed me to avoid shops and not put vulnerable family members at increased risk of COVID-19, which I will now have to do anyway.

The allotment has been closed due to the risk of contamination. Picture: Kim ScrivenerThe allotment has been closed due to the risk of contamination. Picture: Kim Scrivener

“Growing produce in this way is not only of benefit personally, on a societal level, this activity is incredibly environmentally friendly, reduces food miles and benefits health and wellbeing of community members, as such it should be very much supported at both a county and national level and that should be recognised in this situation.”

Burydell Lane Allotment chair Kim Scrivener – who has been in touch with St Albans District Council, which manages the allotment, Affinty Water and the Environmental Agency – added: “During COVID-19, the allotment has become a much-needed refuge and valued source of physical exercise and emotional wellbeing.

“We had been reaping the benefit of spending more time on the site, with a bumper harvest in prospect. We were not only able enjoy our own fresh fruits and vegetables, but also to share them with friends and neighbours.

“To see an allotment being destroyed at the peak of the season is heartbreaking, especially in this particularly difficult year.”

Kim said the site had also flooded in July, and was considered to be a “one-off” but the allotment association has been in contact with the Environment Agency and Affinity Water regarding works conducted upstream on the River Ver in the spring.

Sheds and greenhouses have been damaged, and raised beds have effectively been washed away.

The allotment association has been in “urgent discussions” with St Albans District Council about finding a solution.

Councillor Anthony Rowlands, portfolio Holder for leisure, said: “This is a terrible thing to have happened and I feel for the allotment holders. They have spent many hours tending to their vegetables only for them to be destroyed by the flood.

“The allotments are managed by us on behalf of the owners, the Gorhambury Estate, and our officers went straight to the site when they were alerted to the flooding.

“They have been talking to allotment holders and offering what help and advice that they can.

“We’ve also been in touch with the Environment Agency, which has responsibility for the River Ver, and Affinity Water which extracts from the river.

“We’ll be discussing with them if there was any reason for the flood beside the heavy rain and what actions could be taken to prevent this occurring again.”


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