Environment Agency, Anglian Water, Essex County and Castle Point Council all on the spot where Canvey floods are concerned!

There appears a relief amongst some Castle Point Council members that we, as a Borough, can now point fingers at Essex County Council as the Lead Flood Authority for infrastructure deficiencies that add to flooding problems.
There have been un-contested instances in the past where our own local authority’s failings have added to residents problems.

Cllr Hurrell pointed out that it is wrong to suggest that the rainfall during August 2013 and July 2014 was a biblical event, far from it one only has to look at weather events on the near and distant continents to appreciate how bad weather can actually become, regardless of climate change.

He also requested that deeds rather than rhetoric was now required for the good of Castle Point residents.
Photo-opportunities and lunches with ministers, paper-over the state of Canvey’s drainage system.

In the Echo newspaper it is announced amongst the “hard work” being carried out by Essex County Council and Anglian Water is the creation of a hydraulic model to “help understand how the flooding occurs and prevent it happening in the future.”

It will need to be a very complex model to indicate the effects that the filling in and land grabbing of the dykes and the likely blocking of the drainage pumps by debris during storm events have on the system!

One piece of valuable research is being undertaken by ECC, a Flood Risk Assessment.

Castle Point’s own Strategic Water Management Plan (SWMP) document evidenced by local authority officers, and even more disappointingly given validity by the Environment Agency failed Canvey Island badly!

Historically no attempt had been made by CPBC to record flooding events therefore, hardly any flooding issues were believed to exist!
Blind-leading-the-blind
Cllr Stanley claimed in the Cabinet meeting as the SWMP was accepted as Local Plan evidence, that the mainland had more chance of being flooded than Canvey!

Two serious floods later and that claim was sadly put to bed!

Residents learned otherwise and regretfully events proved the effort and cost involved in producing Castle Points SWMP were wasted.

Paperwork will do nothing to convince residents that all is well and under control especially now that they have experienced property and belongings being damaged by flood water!

And yet this Surface Water Management Plan document is still allowed to stand as relevant evidence towards the new Local Plan.

Essex County Council have only been involved as the Lead Flood Authority for the last two years and already have made an application to Government for funds to alleviate surface water problems in the area.

This grant is likely to be in the region of £100,000.

However the survey of Canvey’s drainage system is likely to list many roads in need of serious work and extend to many reams of paper.

If done correctly the legal reclaiming ownership and uncovering of dykes, alongside the possible re-running of adequate sized drainage pipework, the clearing of gulleys and the dredging of the Canvey Lake and dykes will likely run into a 7 figure sum.

The calling of a Scrutiny meeting at Castle Point Borough Council offers the opportunity to not only monitor these efforts to correct previous failings, but also to make public, the real infrastructure issues currently affecting Canvey and certain parts of the mainland, ahead of the next stage of the new Local Plan work.

Surface Water problems never before were considered a constraint to housing development at Canvey Island, there can be no doubt that into the medium term they must be!

The insurance industry and Government’s scheme to guarantee home insurance for dwellings built in flood zones, FloodRe, excludes properties built since 2009. Properties built since then will likely be unprotected as far as home insurance premiums and excesses are concerned, even the possibility of insurance companies declining to offer protection.

The FloodRe insurance scheme itself, covered in a previous post here, is facing serious problems.

Caxtons Property posted:

“Brokers understand from Tom Woolgrove, the interim Flood Re CEO, who has been in discussions with Defra, that the government’s aim was to achieve investment by owners to protect property against flooding, and the ‘3 strikes’ would be an incentive to do so.

He said that Flood Re was “…working with them to make sure that this is proportionate but creates some incentive for policyholders to take action. There has to be some limit on the number of flood claims that Flood Re can reimburse before a policyholder takes some element of responsibility towards resilience measures.”

He implied that once the first claim had been made, Flood Re would encourage ‘and probably pay for’ a flood resilience survey.

Once a second claim had been made, the policyholder would be directed to invest in measures up to a financial limit.

If this has not been followed through when a third claim was made “essentially that policy will be unable to be ceded into Flood Re.

The Association of British insurers say the matter is even worse because in their view the proposals might not get regulatory approval as “a sustainable insurance vehicle”. A limit to Flood Re cash flows, in the industry’s opinion, are creating impossible problems.

Unless a resolution can be found to the problems, it is estimated that approximately 200,000 homes will suffer massive premium and excess level rises.

According to the industry, the lack of investment in UK flood defences has led to an undermining of their commitment to provide universal flood cover”

Above from Caxton’s July 24th 2014 Report:

And previously 15th July 2014:-

“A report by the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) concerning the effect on some flood-prone properties excluded from Flood Re, is considered so sensitive that it has not been made public.

The report warns that policyholders will be liable to severe increases in both premiums and excess levels on renewal.  It identifies examples of small brokers facing problems when sourcing and renewing property insurance for customers whose homes and businesses are in danger of flooding, and are excluded from Flood Re.

The document shows extreme examples of premiums rising from £2,000 to £25,000, policy excess hikes from hundreds to tens of thousands of pounds and in some cases, total exclusion from cover.

Ian Fletcher, director of policy at the British Property Federation, has said excluded properties should be incorporated into the scheme as a matter of urgency.

While we knew SMEs would be excluded from Flood Re, this is the first we have heard of large increases in premiums and policy excess. The report also warns that if small businesses can’t secure affordable flood insurance they would risk closure.”

There can be no doubt that the possibility of properties / homes and businesses going uninsured is an unsustainable problem.
This matter must be addressed by cllr Dave Blackwell as the chairman of the Scrutiny Committee considering the recent flooding and Cllr Colin Riley as the Leader of Castle Point Council.
There is no reason to indicate that they will not follow this issue through.
In the meantime withdraw the evidence that supposedly supports the sustainability in proposing new development at Canvey Island whilst our drainage is in its current condition!

The level of housing development initially proposed within the Core Strategy and then further proposed within the draft Local Plan will simply compound critical drainage issues.

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3 responses to “Environment Agency, Anglian Water, Essex County and Castle Point Council all on the spot where Canvey floods are concerned!

  1. Thanks once again for this honest account of what we are faced with as a result of the lack of sufficient infrastructure to deal with the fundamental management of surface water flooding. The Environment Agency issued in July 2013 Strategic Flood Risk Assessments guidance to support the National Planning Policy Framework. This guidance should encourage local planning authorities to give the fall weight, should they choose to do so, to implementation of development constraints to flood risk areas.
    As a starting point, the SFRA should cover what would happen at the end of the development’s lifetime, deemed to be 100 years, including an allowance for climate change. The SFRA should cover the likelihood of failure of sea defences at or above the design flood level through the lifetime of the development.
    Although considered justified funding for the future sustainability of Canvey Sea Defence has not been secured. We are now faced with the log term prospect that Critical Drainage Issues will need resolution, again requiring huge investments. Canvey Island is a location where additional development may significantly increase flood risk elsewhere through the impact on existing sources of flooding, or by the generation of increased surface water run off. Both these issues, it can be assumed, would cause concern for the Insurance Industry and subsequent anxiety for the Boroughs community.
    Steve Sawkins

  2. No more building, clean the drains, clean out the dykes, clean and properly dredge the lake, put the correct size sewerage pipes underground. Stop passing the buck, its the problem of all the agencies, including castle point council, ,,,,, anglian water, Essex County council, the weather is not the issue, the facts are, the island and surrounding areas have been neglected for far to long. If the drains were man enough to take the amount of water that fell, and the dykes . And water ways were clear. I don’t believe anyone would of been flooded. (Gardens maybe , but thats it) .

  3. It amazes me with all the coverage about the recent floods, drains not being maintained etc., when we all know that the main cause is over development of Canvey during the 1970/60’s. One knocked down and at least 2, 3 or 4 built on concrete slabs with no where for the water to go. Add to that, most of the ditches that were at the bottom of the small plots were done away with so they could get as much on each plot as possible. If we were lucky some developers piped the ditches, others just filled them in so no where for the water to go. Council officials didn’t complain then even though it was clear to see what was going on. They need to get some of the old maps out with the locations of all the drainage ditches that were in place and compare that to what we have now for a start. However that said when you get 2 months rain in 90 mins a lot of places struggle to cope. All comes down to over development though, and they want to build more in the gaps still! Crazy.
    D.Howard

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