Keeping a Lid on potential incidents and leaving Canvey Residents in the dark and Unprepared!

The ability, or lack of, of Castle Point Council to communicate with residents was apparent during the Reports, Reviews and Scrutiny following the floods during 2013 and 2014.

Whilst more and more development, both residential and housing, is being planned and proposed for Canvey Island the continued failure of communication leads to emergency planning issues being compounded. Promises of new roads cloud the waters, evacuation is not an option according to Castle Point Council.

Having limited information hidden away on the Council’s website is of little value, but allows the local authority to exonerate themselves.

The denser the urbanisation becomes, the more complex the response to emergencies become, whether through surface water flooding, flooding from the estuary or an incident at the hazardous industry sites.

Mushroom syndrome where you're fed bullshit and kept in the dark

Mushroom syndrome where you’re fed bullshit and kept in the dark

The flooding during 2014 illustrated the weakness of the initial response to an emergency on Canvey Island. There were difficulties, understandably, for the Environment Agency teams to respond to failures with the pumps. The Essex County report into the event was critical of the failures and messages coming from our local authority. Residents requested sand bags to protect property, unaware that CPBC have no sand bag issuing facilities!

Should a breach of the sea defences occur the problems and dangers would multiply.

Equally there is little attempt to inform residents of safe procedures for self protection in the event of an incident at the Hazardous Industrial sites.

And yet Local plan Constraints on housing development have been discussed and used by the local authority to the effect that the housing numbers should be limited for the Borough, but that still large housing and industrial / business development is proposed for Canvey that will effectively compound the potential problems.

While we are kept unaware, it can be assumed Canvey residents will not object.

It appears that these proposals are being proposed knowingly, that little effort is being made to make Canvey residents more informed.

The lack of effort by CPBC has been noted even by Essex County Council, yet little changes!

Over 2 years ago Essex County Council, in September 2013 recorded;

“With specific reference to Canvey Island, the Committee acknowledged that the close proximity of COMAH sites to residential areas probably does contribute to an increased perception of danger among residents.  While there are historical reasons for the location of the COMAH Sites and residential areas that have developed in close proximity to those sites, it was agreed that in an ideal world such sites would be planned distant from houses.  However, the Committee focussed its attention on existing circumstances and believed that the best way of countering those fears is by effective public information systems and robust emergency planning.  

The Committee was disappointed with the limited information available via the Council’s (CPBC) own website, which was exacerbated by the fact that some of the valuable materials produced by the ECPEM team (Essex Civil Protection and Emergency Management Team) could not apparently be published on the site even though other local authorities had published the same materials.  Furthermore attention had been drawn to advances in technology such as real time information and social media systems that could be harnessed to develop even greater community resilience.”


2 responses to “Keeping a Lid on potential incidents and leaving Canvey Residents in the dark and Unprepared!

  1. In regard to emergency planning the CCA regulations distinguish between generic and specific plans. Similarly, in relation to the duty to have arrangements to warn, inform and advise the public, the regulations recognise that these may be generic or specific. Which arrangements are chosen will depend on the type of emergency being planned for and the particular circumstances within a locality.
    Given the known ramifications of a Buncefied type incident and the Actual Risk of the flooding of Canvey Island either by breach or over topping identified by the Castle Point Council SFRA 2010 this should alert the Authorities Emergency Planners to the fact that the only known plan available to the community of Canvey Island of Go-in, Tune in and Stay in. is in some cases now overwhelmingly inappropriate.
    Both County and Castle Point Council are aware that they are under a duty to comply with the Civil Contingency Act and a failure to do so will leave both Authorities exposed to a legal challenge. The risk is being found to be unprepared for foreseeable incidents culminating in greater property damage or worse still the increase in personal injury and death. In such circumstances, the Human Rights Act could be engaged and individuals who suffer as a result of the Authorities failure to implement appropriate emergency planning strategies could have, (arising under breaches of Article 1 – right to life and article 8- right to peaceful enjoyment of family life) a case.
    Land Use Planning and Emergency Planning are intrinsically linked particularly when there is a possibility that planning aspiration comes into direct conflict with Article 13 of the Seveso III Directives and the Technical document that supports the NPPF.
    It is seemingly the lack of emergency contingencies that would support an Evacuation of the community of Canvey Island that gives the most concern to its residents and the very issues that this report fails to identify. Emergency plans will only work effectively if the public understands the risk and how to respond to them, clearly initiatives, for an example such as the Community Risk Register, having identified the significance of a site specific incident, should include a requirement for much more detail to be given to the public on what may happen and what they should do.

  2. Thanks Steve, for your input. It appears that in acceptance that an evacuation of Canvey Island being impractical and the “Go in, Stay in and Tune in” policy being inappropriate, there remains little necessity to improve communications with residents by the local authority. Clearly there is a requirement to investigate effective means of communication, however this may only receive the necessary attention following a serious incident. The channels of communication are in place, amongst the problems to be addressed is the disengagement by disillusioned residents!
    An informed public is a prepared public!

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