Beware! Stark contrast in Flood Defence Standard and Expenditure, Netherlands and Canvey Island comparison!

ITV have blogged an interesting and contrasting view on how Flooding is approached in the Netherlands and in the UK.

Much of Holland is comparable to Canvey Island, in that it is at or below sea level.

Once you have read the blog post it is important that you follow the Link to the original article where the contrast in annual protection Expenditure AND more importantly, the Level of Protection is illustrated!

This should bring into question the approach to Housing Growth of our local authority in quite stark terms.

Of course this post concentrates solely on Tidal Flood Risk, Canvey residents also have to contend with, the worst condition drainage system in the Country according to the Anglian Water representative!

5 January 2016 at 7:13pm

Dutch flood defences show what can be achieved with investment

Alok Jha Science Correspondent

In 1953, The Netherlands was struck by one of the most destructive storms in its history. Winds pummeled the western coast of this low-lying country and water surged into the towns and cities near the coast.

Almost 2,000 people died and, as a result of the tragedy, the Dutch government began an ambitious, long-term plan to defend its country against the sea.

The centrepiece of that plan is the Delta Works programme in the south west of the country. Completed in 1997 with the opening of the enormous Maeslantkering storm surge barrier near Rotterdam, this is a system of 13 dams and moveable gates that sit in the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta.

The system cost tens of billions of euros over more than four decades and includes thousands of kilometres of dikes and canals that can carry away excess water and levees along the coasts.

The Maeslantkering storm surge barrier near Rotterdam.

The Maeslantkering storm surge barrier near Rotterdam. Credit: ITV News

Each arm of the Maeslantkering barrier, which can protect the port city of Rotterdam against storm surges up to three metres higher than normal, is the size of the Eiffel Tower. Within a few hours, these huge steel structures can be moved into place to block the channel that flows to the city.

The Netherlands spends €1 billion every year maintaining large-scale flood defences like these. In a country where 40% of the land is below sea level and 60% of the country at risk from floods, they have little choice.

But not every measure to protect against flood waters is so huge.

Inspired by old Dutch canal boats, architects in Delft have also designed homes that float, moving with the water around them as it rises and falls. They might be a little more expensive than a traditional home, but the flexibility and safety they can afford to people in flood-prone regions is surely worth the extra cost.

And in the centre of Rotterdam, which like other cities is covered in concrete, locals have found innovative ways to let rain water flow around without causing damage.

Green roofs and small parks and gardens absorb water, restoring the city’s ability to return water to the ground instead of running off onto the footpaths and around buildings. And at Water Square, the sunken public space can be used as a basketball court or amphitheatre on dry days. But if heavy rain falls, it also acts as a temporary reservoir to control the flow of excess water.

Architects in Delft have designed homes that float.

Architects in Delft have designed homes that float. Credit: ITV News

Arnoud Molenaar, Rotterdam’s Chief Resilience Officer, says that the Dutch have water management in their DNA. It helps that just under half of their country is below sea level, so keeping water at bay is critical to their survival. But he says his fellow countrymen are also good at thinking long-term and translating their needs in 100 years’ time into points for action today.

That’s reflected even in the huge infrastructure projects such as the Maeslantkering barrier. After I was shown around the facility by manager Mark Walraven, he told me that, although the barrier’s design takes into account future sea-level rise due to climate change, it will only be effective for about a century.

After that, they will need something even more impressive to keep the flood waters at bay.

Be sure to watch the two short video’s for the different perspectives in investment approach of the UK and the Netherlands, via this link HERE.

One response to “Beware! Stark contrast in Flood Defence Standard and Expenditure, Netherlands and Canvey Island comparison!

  1. Editor,
    An even starker contrast is the fact that CPBC refuses to heed the warnings provided by its own Strategic Flood Risk Assessment highlighted by its conclusions. ( see below )
    Instead it remains totally dependant upon the Thames Estuary 2100 Projects aspirational recommendation that further actions will be taken to sustain the Boroughs current level of tidal protection so as to justify its continued intensive development programme, in doing so potentially placing a greater number of its community at risk.

    Conclusions (SFRA)
    12.1.1 The results from the increased scope Level 2 SFRA have confirmed that the southern part of Castle Point, namely Canvey Island and the Hadleigh Marshes area are at significant risk of tidal flooding.

    12.1.2 In the event that a breach in the existing flood defences was to occur, or a failure of one of the existing flood barriers (residual risk), significant depths of floodwater would be experienced on Canvey Island and the southern portion of the mainland. Given the low lying nature of these parts of the borough, floodwaters would propagate rapidly across Canvey Island thereby reducing the time for warning and evacuation of residents.

    12.1.3 In addition, it has been identified that parts of Canvey Island are at real risk of flooding from overtopping within the lifetime of new developments due to the level of protection of the existing defences eventually falling below the current target standard of protection due to sea level risk linked to climate change over this period. Overtopping is shown to occur along parts of the defences during the 1 in 200 year plus climate change event and the 1 in 1000 year plus climate change event.

    12.1.4 The Hadleigh Marsh area on the mainland is undeveloped and therefore the implications of the flood risk in this area are limited. The policy adopted for this area as part of the Thames Estuary 2100 Project is to reduce the existing flood risk management actions and accept that flood risk will increase over time.

    12.1.5 Canvey Island is relatively densely populated and therefore under the Thames Estuary 2100 Project it is recommended that further action is taken to sustain the current level of flood risk into the future, responding to potential increases in risk from urban development, land use and climate change. In line with this policy, the information provided in this SFRA should be used to inform planning policies and strategies, development control decisions and emergency planning considerations as discussed below.

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