“Don’t mention the Floods!” New Castle Point Flood Risk Management Plan consultation debated.

Castle Point Cabinet “debated” the new Environment Agency (EA) Draft Flood Risk Management Plan that is out for consultation. A subject having great concern in the recent few years locally, not least for Canvey Island.

During the previous two years, storms have highlighted how the Canvey Island drainage system has been found wanting through ill-prepardness, lack of maintenance and basically of limited capability, in light of the topography of the area.

View of Canvey Island flooding from Police Helicopter July 2014

View of Canvey Island flooding from Police Helicopter July 2014

The two existing flood Plans, the Surface Water Management Plan (SWMP) and the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment SFRA) are open to criticism.

Firstly, the SFRA delivered some months late, in fact causing the suspension of the Examination in Public of the Core Strategy!

This delay appeared to be caused by CPBC,  realising the foreboding manner of presentation of the draft documents contents, meeting with the EA so as to finalise a less sensational and public concerning document with it’s producers Scott Wilson.

This was made more evident by the empty chair, vacated by Scott Wilson’s representative, at the Core Strategy Examination on the day that Flood Risk in the Borough was debated!

The fact that CPBC published a local Plan, with the housing growth distribution agreed (on Canvey Green Belt), ahead of  evidence from the Flood Risk Assessment was indication itself that “Local Factors” was influencing decision making!

The continuing reassurance that our sea defence is the finest in the UK is all well and good, however it is not the finest in Europe, by some measure. It is the best that could be afforded at the time. God forbid it is not tested in the same way that the drainage system was during the August and July floods. Ongoing work is required in the medium term to maintain the standard of its defence.

Residents should not be under the assumption that the drainage pumps will cope with flooding should the sea defence be breached.

The SWMP, gleefully adopted by the CPBC as it misleadingly indicated the mainland was at a higher risk of flooding compared with Canvey Island, is another document with serious issues.

Unfortunately the desk work failed to prepare us for the practical effects from flooding felt by residents of Canvey Island during 2013 and 2014.

There are serious faults in this SWMP that the Canvey Green Belt Campaign group have documented and challenged the Environment Agency over.

Input of historical events by CPBC officers have been a hindrance, and the checking of detail found wanting.

Further probing by us has led to the document’s whole relevance being doubted. A fact endorsed by the EA.

The apparent esteem in which Scott Wilson is held in by CPBC cabinet is correct, except where local interference of their documents effectively dilutes the messages contained within them.

The trivialising of debate by certain cabinet members was illustrated by the patronising response by one member, who defended an officer under question, with the comment: “we have professional officers who are professional!”

Don't mention the war, Pike!

Don’t mention the war, Pike!

Locally the positive shift of responsibility for flood risk onto one lead authority,Essex County, appears to be an opportunity to direct blame for previous misdemeanours, inappropriate levels of housing growth, lack of an emergency evacuation plan etc, onto the newly appointed responsible agency.

The value of green open space, the dykes, ditches and rivers in the drainage of Canvey must be realised and their status maintained.

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One response to ““Don’t mention the Floods!” New Castle Point Flood Risk Management Plan consultation debated.

  1. Editor, I strongly feel that it was quite appropriate that the Councils consultation response to the Draft Thames River Basin District Flood Risk Management Plan, put to the Cabinet of Castle Point Council for acceptance was challenged.

    The following are some of the questions that the Cabinet should have been provided with in order to assess the response provided by the report, put before them.

    Consultation questions for the draft FRMPs
    1. Do you agree this draft plan sets out the most significant flood risk issues for your area? (yes / no).
    a) If not, please explain what you think is missing.
    2. What do you consider to be the highest priorities for managing the risk of flooding in your area?
    It is important to have the right objectives for managing the risk of flooding, taking account of the impacts of flooding on people, property and the environment.
    3. Do you understand the objectives as described in the draft plan? (yes / no)
    a) If not, what would help you understand them better?
    4. Is the balance right between the ‘social’, ‘economic’ and ‘environmental’ objectives, as explained in the draft plan? (yes / no)
    a) If not, what would you change and why?
    5. Are there other flood risk management objectives that should be included? (yes / no.)

    So far so good, not very difficult or so complex that the Cabinet members could not understand.

    However when put in the following context subsequently attracting what would be not unreasonable responses it could put a whole different aspect to the issues of flooding on Canvey Island.

    Question 1
    Do you agree that this draft plan sets out the most.
    significant flood risk issues for your area? Yes.
    What do you consider to be the highest priorities for managing the risk of flooding in your area?
    Possible Response.
    1 Prevent any further developments on remaining flood plains
    2 better management of remaining flood plains
    3 SuDS for all new developments and improvements to existing properties.

    Why was the response being presented to the Cabinet a misrepresentation of the process being asked for by the consultation process and why did the Councils Officers feel that they need to simplify flood risk management issue for the Cabinet members.

    Canvey Island by being placed in the Thames River Basin District, has the effect of placing it in isolation from the rest of the Borough. This alignment effectively puts Canvey in competition with London Boroughs which compromises the justification for flood mitigating funding, having the effect of making Canvey a very small fish in a very big pond.

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