Are you sitting Comfortably?
Then I’ll begin –
“The (Canvey Island) application site is located within Flood Zone 3a, which has a high probability of flooding. Looking at the whole of Castle Point District it would seem that there are areas within Flood Zone 1 that could accommodate this form of development.
However, given that the only areas of Flood Zone 1 in the district are on the “mainland” part, such an approach would direct all new development towards Benfleet and Hadleigh.
Canvey is a self-contained community with its own housing needs and directing all new development towards Benfleet and Hadleigh could have an adverse impact on Canvey socially and economically.
Furthermore, a need for housing on Canvey cannot be met by building around Benfleet and Hadleigh due to other constraints such as the Green Belt.”
So says the cpbc Planning Officer as the latest attempt to convince residents, councillors and, no doubt the Planning Inspectorate, that castle point council’s approach to the application of the Flood Risk Sequential Test is morally sound!
Going back just 10 years things were different and the Environment Agency held a more cautious and responsible stance:-
Extract from the Echo June 2008
“DEVELOPERS seeking to build new homes on Canvey are being forced to think again because of growing fears about flooding.
The Environment Agency is resolutely pursuing its policy of recommending refusal of plans to build new homes on the island because Canvey is below sea level and therefore on a flood plain.
Castle Point Council is taking those recommendations to heart and rejecting applications for new homes, leaving some developers in limbo.
The council has pledged to continue upholding the Environment Agency’s recommendations until the results of a Government-initiated inquiry into flood plains publishes its findings.
The Government appointed Sir Michael Pitt to carry out the study, following catastrophic floods in Hull after heavy rainfall in June and July last year. It is likely the final report expected, this summer, will recommend tighter restrictions.
Ray Howard, Castle Point and Essex county councillor, said local authorities were reluctant to ignore the Environment Agency’s advice, while they are waiting for the results of the Pitt Report.
Mr Howard has received many letters from people struggling to build on Canvey.
He said: “It’s a big problem that needs to be looked at. We can’t have a blanket ban for building here.
“I believe Canvey is unique, as it has the best flood walls and flood water drainage system in the country.
“The flood plain rules should be relaxed for us.”
Last week localised flooding on the island, caused by heavy rainfall, affected hundreds of residents on the island.
But Mr Howard is convinced it is well protected against severe flooding from the Thames Estuary.
A total of £34 million was spent rebuilding Canvey’s sea walls in the 1970s and 1980s.
A further £6 million was spent last year on 14 giant pumps, spread around the island to force water back into the sea if the walls are ever breached.
Mr Howard said: “The reason Canvey is always considered high-risk is because of the 1953 flood.
“But back then the only sea defences were soil walls, built by the original Dutch settlers.”
The 1953 Canvey flood claimed the lives of 58 people.
Despite Mr Howard’s insistence that Canvey is well protected, the Environment Agency refused to budge from its policy of objecting to all new homes on flood plains.
Spokeswoman Rita Penman insisted the Environment Agency could not relax its planning guidelines for Canvey,
She said: “Although Canvey is well defended, the current understanding across the country is that if there are other areas not on the flood plains, they should be developed first.
“This is in the interests of everyone’s safety. We are therefore unable to recommend approval for any new developments on Canvey at the present time.”
Even if the Government report clears the way for new homes on flood plains, insurers are warning hundreds of thousands of homes built in high-risk areas may not qualify for insurance.
Nick Starling, the Association of British Insurers’ director of general insurance and health, said: “Poor planning decisions will lead to more homes becoming unsaleable, uninsurable and uninhabitable”
Disappointing then, that following the Summer Flooding of 2014 the cpbc chief executive officer should point out that the Canvey Island drainage system – was never intended to be able to cope with Tidal Flooding of the Island!
But of course the findings of the cpbc Scrutiny Committee’s meetings to discuss the flooding and its consequences, during which the ceo made the admittance, has never been published, despite the flood occuring 4 years past!
To enforce the Association of British Insurers position, above, the Flood Re scheme to guarantee affordable house insurance against flooding does not cover houses built since January 2009.
Has Caveat emptor, been anymore appropriate?
I have been reminded by a sceptical mainlander that, “IT IS HARD TO FOOL PEOPLE, BUT IT’S EVEN HARDER TO CONVINCE PEOPLE THAT THEY HAVE BEEN FOOLED.”
The short EA video below may give you some insight as to the sensibility of those that propose and support the over development of Canvey Island and whether the drainage system could ever be made capable of alleviating Flood Risk!
The EA expert’s explanation of how the drainage System is designed to work, appears to be far different to the practical experiences during 2013 and 2014 and the isolated Flooding incidents during other periods!