FORESTRY England has released video footage and photos of an overflowing Cannop Ponds after their decision to close the site today (Tuesday, December 5) was labelled “scaremongering” by locals.
Cannop Ponds car park and the footpath across the upper dam were closed by Forestry England (FE) following heavy rainfall throughout Monday (December 4).
A Facebook post announcing the closure read: “Due to heavy rainfall in the area during the last 24 hours, water levels in the Cannop Reservoirs have risen. Our civil engineers are monitoring the situation closely.”
However, some locals suggested FE was exaggerating the situation to back up research it has carried out on the risk of flooding at the ponds.
One of the reasons FE says it is considering options for the future of Cannop, some of which involve changing the makeup of the ponds themselves, is to improve water attenuation in order to manage the risk of flooding downstream in Parkend and Lydney.
It says action is needed as the current dams would not withstand a 150-year flooding event, the likelihood of which is increasing year-on-year due to climate change.
One person commented on the closure announcement: “Unbelievable - water levels rise in a reservoir after rain!!! Isn't that what they are designed to do.
“Why close a car park and footpath other than to stop the public seeing the dams are safe and doing their job.”
Another said: “For goodness sake, this is scaremongering. You have never put this out before, why now?”
Others suggested the period of rainfall was not enough to merit a closure.
Then earlier today, FE posted pictures and video to its Facebook page along with an update, defending its decision to close the site.
The post read: “Yesterday we took the decision to temporarily close Cannop Ponds due to the rising water levels, particularly in the Upper Pond.
“These images/videos were taken by our team yesterday morning and show how close the water came to overtopping the dam.
“We believe that this incident was caused by the frozen ground conditions on Saturday, which meant the heavy rainfall was unable to drain into the soil.
“In addition to this, a large oak tree fell across the entrance to the car park, blocking access.
“This combination of factors meant that we had to close the site to keep people safe. We do not take the decision to close any of our visitor sites lightly, and we do urge people to stay away from closures. They are in place for your safety.
"Our team checked in on the water levels throughout the night, and were stood down following the 2am check as the water levels had dropped sufficiently.
"With the bad weather forecast later in the week, we are keeping the site closed as a precautionary measure. We will be deploying pumps to both ponds to help manage the water levels should we need them."