Help is available for the boaters affected by the sinkings and strandings on the River Avon in Bath on 15th September 2020, caused by the failure of the Environment Agency’s (EA) sluice gate at Twerton. Alice and Carla from Julian House Travelling Communities Support Service will be on site today 17th September to assist anyone who needs support. Contact Alice on 07960 097719 or Carla on 07539 926809. The EA and CRT will also be at Weston Lock today from 8am. If you have any concerns about water levels or the sluice gate, contact 0800 807060 24 hours a day.
CRT has contracted with River Canal Rescue to raise and free the sunk and stranded boats and they will be on site today to assess damage to each boat. The Police, Avon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, CRT and BaNES Council have also been on the spot to protect the boats, provide security and provide emergency accommodation (at YMCA Bath) or welfare support for those who need it. If you know anyone who has been affected please share this information with them as they may not have access to their phone, charger or laptop.
If you need emergency accommodation contact BaNES Housing Options Team on 01225 396296. If you need urgent access to medication kept on your boat call 111. If you cannot safely isolate a gas cylinder on your boat call 999 and ask for Fire and Rescue.
The EA has stated it will release details on how boat owners can apply for compensation in due course.
The EA made the following statement yesterday:
“The Environment Agency and its partners is leading on the incident in Bath which saw a number of boats sink when the river level suddenly dropped on 15/09/2020. Staff have investigated to find out what happened and it appears a fault in the software which operates the vertical sluice gate caused it to open suddenly, causing the river level to drop 1.8m.
Ian Withers of the Environment Agency said: “This is very distressing to see so many people who rely on their boats as their home to suddenly become stricken and unable to access their property. Fortunately, it appears no one was harmed and the hard work of righting this situation has begun.
An incident like this is unprecedented. But with the support of B&NES, the Canal & River Trust and Avon & Somerset Police steps are being taken. The first is welfare and accommodation, which has been offered to those in need of a place to stay, with facilities now on site for those who have chosen to be near their property.
We are holding the river upstream while engineers contracted by the Canal & River Trust begin inspecting each boat to see if it will float or if repair is needed first. While this operation continues, it is obviously necessary for us to keep the river upstream and it will likely take several days. Once done, and everyone is satisfied no further damage will be caused, the river will be released in a safe and controlled manner.
Partners will continue to support those affected and give help and advice on issues like how to access medicine and accommodation. However, boat owners are advised not to attempt to access or interfere with the stability of their vessels while they are in this dangerous condition until they have been assessed”.
The EA has also issued the circular below.