Essex County Council’s re-action, or lack of action prior to the Canvey flooding, was examined at last evening’s Scrutiny meeting.
“The search for a scapegoat is the easiest of all hunting expeditions.” ― Dwight D. Eisenhower
Their failings can be directly attributed to adding tothe cause of flood water entering residents homes during both the July 2014 and August 2013 events.
Information was revealed by ECC, much already suspected by residents, of lack of maintenance and clearing of gulleys and drains.
It was “unfortunate” that both rainstorms occurred at the weekends! Apparently standby contractor gulley cleaning crews come from outside of the area and had problems passing flooded roads!
There are 6,000 road gulleys on Canvey Island. Prior to the recent event Essex County Council were unaware of the total number!
The drainage on Canvey Island suffers from “deep seated” problems and is not simply an issue of maintenance.
It was admitted that Highways do not have enough funds and are having to prioritise their work load.
The implication here being that should there be further heavy rainfall in Essex, outside of Castle Point, without further funding, these clearing crews may be re-allocated to other areas during an emergency.
The Essex County representative also revealed problems that indicate that our own Castle Point Borough Council may themselves be culpable.
ECC working alongside Anglian Water discovered that a Developer had connected a 150 mm diametre drainage pipe to an existing 600 mm drainage pipe!
The lack of building inspection work on Canvey Island, alongside the lack of flood prevention measures at development proposal approval stage, is a clear fault of the local authority.
Yet so far there is no intention of the Scrutiny Committee to examine CPBC’s own culpability leading up to the event. It appears that now that ECC have been appointed Lead Local Flood Authority, CPBC are exonerated!
There was a failure by CPBC to attempt to keep records of previous flooding.
CPBC suggested that the flat nature of Canvey’s landscape meant the likelihood of surface water flooding was less of an issue. In fact the recent ECC report suggests that the opposite was true!
These failings were input into the information being collated to produce the Surface Water Management Plan. This resulted in indicating Canvey Island, although a critical drainage area, had no potential surface water flooding “hot spots.”
Castle Point Cabinet accepted without question, despite councillors being aware of previous flooding issues, this document, and the rest was history.
Even the very first “Meeting of responsible Agencies” held on the 30th August following the July 2014 flood, to look into the problem, cause and failings that led to so many householders suffering losses and misery, found the need to work the “redevelopment of Thorney Bay” into the discussion.
There lies the main problem.
CPBC’s continued over development of Canvey Island, despite the area being low lying (below sea level), clay sub soil, generally flat, so no natural water run-off, reliant on pumps as a means of drainage, with a high water table, is the issue.
As long ago as 2005 defra published the “Making Space for Water” document with it’s recommendation to Land Use Planning.
Continually at local planning level in Castle Point little caution is placed on the likelihood of flooding from new development.
Since the Environment Agency were persuaded to view Canvey Island as a “special case” and allow CPBC the responsibility for determining the level of flood hazard and danger to new development, little objection has been allowed by the officers and development committee on flooding grounds.
The Government Office for Science Report on the Essex County Council’s Canvey Island flood review issued 7 Recommendations.
We would like to suggest an 8th Recommendation.
Essex County Council are preparing an approach to the Government for funding aid, once the Canvey Island Urban Drainage Study is complete. This will take some considerable work. In the meantime residents will fear everytime rainfall is forecast.
Some unfortunate residents had only just dried out their homes following the August 2013 flood before they were flooded out again.
Apparently ECC suggest that some £1.5 million has been allocated for the immediate remedial work.
May I suggest that as an 8th Recommendation a subsidy is arranged for residents to put towards the purchase, and if necessary the fitting, of Anti flood Air Brick Covers.
This, alongside the gulley clearing, would give some immediate hope that water from a further heavy rainstorm may not enter their homes, whilst we wait for the more time and finance consuming remedial work required to our drainage and pumping system.
The Agencies concerned will produce a lot of paperwork and reports, Action is what is required. Action and assistance in protecting our homes.
This may convince the Insurance Industry that something practical is being done so as to make House Insurance viable on Canvey Island.
The other 7 Recommendations issued by the Government Office for Science are:
Recommendation 1 – A single person should have the authority and accountability to manage and coordinate effective flooding responses in vulnerable localities.
Recommendation 2 – An action plan should be drawn up to provide access to pumps during flooding to help ensure continuous pumping when required.
Recommendation 3 – A peer review of the drainage and pumping infrastructure needs to take place.
Recommendation 4 – An assessment should be made of the resilience of the local
population to flooding.
Recommendation 5 – The Met Office and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology should review the likelihood and impact of extreme weather events.
Recommendation 6 – The Environment Agency along with relevant agencies should provide an overview of areas where extreme rainfall events may result in significant local impact, in order to review safeguards in those places.
Recommendation 7 -The Natural Hazards Partnership should use the Canvey Island event as a case study in the surface water Hazard Impact Modelling initiative to enhance the development of more effective future alerting.