Tag Archives: anglian water

Canvey Island’s “flood” of Good News stories!

Never let it be said that the Canvey Green Belt Campaign group dwell on “poor us” missives as we acknowledge, the flood of Canvey Island  “Good News Stories,” being brought to our attention across social media of late. We are more than happy to contribute and post the following Hoorahs!

Those residents troubled should we see a Rain Storm in future similar to those of 2013 and 2014 can rest assured.

They will know that their Homes now have access to the FLOOD Re insurance scheme. This scheme insures they will be able to get competitive House Insurance from practically the whole insurance market.

Provided their homes were built prior to 2009!

In 2015 Castle Point Council assembled a high profile delegation and attended Parliament seeking £24,500,000 so as to upgrade the Canvey Island drainage system and to prevent any further flooding of Canvey Homes.

We have no further update on the request by Parliament to provide breakdown figures of exactly what the money is required for.

We also must pay tribute to the tireless and determined efforts that MAP, the Multi Agency Partnership, of the Environment Agency, Anglian Water, Essex County Council, Castle Point Council and Essex Highways are making to keep our Island Homes dry and Residents safe in the event of a future storm capable of bringing Surface Water Flooding.

It can ONLY, therefore be a short matter of time before scheduled routine maintenance of the Hole Haven Sluice is carried out.

Sluice 4Sluice 3Sluice 2

Sluice 1

 

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The £24.5 Million Question-how much to improve the Canvey drainage system, and how much for Add ons?

canvey flood bid 1.jpg-pwrt3

Having watched the latest Castle Point Council meeting as Bill Dick’s Motion regarding the situation with the £24,500,000 bid for Government funding to improve the drainage system across Castle Point, some comment is required.

Yes the same £24,500,000 bid that was estimated to be required to correct the Canvey Island drainage system, which now appears to be being sought to share out across the Borough AND an estimated cost that lacks enough detail for presentation.

Councillors during debate neither queried nor challenged the council and supporting agencies position, indeed healthy congratulations for the tireless work being put in by the CPBC chief executive and assisting councillors.

Why then would the Echo have reported, unchallenged by our MP, council leader and chief executive, on the 30th November 2015;

“COUNCIL bosses will return to Parliament this week in a bid to secure multi-million pound funding for Canvey’s drainage.

In March, MP Rebecca Harris joined Castle Point Council and Anglian Water representatives to present minister Liz Truss with a £24.5million bid for Government funding to upgrade drainage.

The group will now return to provide a more detailed submission of its plans to upgrade the island’s system.”

Clearly at the time “A Good News Story” worthy of echo coverage and headlines ahead of elections that would appease concerns for Canvey residents.

The chief executive joining in stating;

“When you get severe events like those which affected the island in the last two years, that is a catastrophe in anybody’s book and 1,000 lives were wrecked.

“This ensures residents that their homes will not be affected to the same extent, but also we can be satisfied all the agencies have pulled together to secure a result for the residents that they deserve.”

The truth was that at the time CPBC and agency representatives were sent away with the message that there was no funding available for them.

So rather than residents feeling confident of how  progress has been made in the 2 years since the second major drainage flooding event on Canvey, they now learn that

  • the webcast of the Essex Highways representative promising that a more regular regime of road gulley clearance would be put in place, has now been archived away from public view by CPBC.
  • That the appeal for Government funding will itself require further funding!
  • That the money, should any be forthcoming, will be used across Castle Point!

This poses the question, was the original figure £24,500,000 (note not £24 or £25 million) plucked out of the air to appease residents?

No doubt once a figure is eventually evidenced and presented by a council, with fast approaching financial issues, supported by Anglian Water, a public limited company with shareholders to accomodate, it will, or at least should be, examined minutely before being allocated public funds.

Castle Point Council themselves have questions to answer as development, both the amount and some of the questionable building practises, makes them also accountable.

Essex County have received our council taxes and failed to deliver gulley maintenance.

The environment agency cut back on staffing levels, clearing  dykes and pump filters believing the system was adequate, were found out!

All of these issues should have been published within the Castle Point Scrutiny Committee review into the Canvey Island flooding of 2014, instead the report remains incompleted.

Cllr Dick is right to be concerned, and he is entitled to question what is proposed for the mainland areas prone to flooding.

But what wasn’t to be expected was a motion that invited all and sundry to suggest what tireless and fruitful work was being performed by one and all.

Just as CPBC were caught out with their trousers around their ankles when it was admitted that no proposal for funding for the completion of Roscommon Way had been registered with Essex county, now Canvey residents learn that a bid for drainage improvement funding has stalled.

Soon it may be suggested that Canvey residents AND their representatives are being taken for Mugs!

 

Canvey Island residents facing potentially massive costs despite local authority continuing to overload drainage system!

Some Canvey Island residents face potentially massive funding issues, should the funding for drainage repairs not be forthcoming from the Government.

Anglian Water representative, interviewed on Dave Monk BBC Essex programme, explained many Canvey residents are unaware that potentially problematic drainage under their property is ultimately the owner’s responsibility.

The result of the £24,500,000 bid for funding lodged  with Government by CPBC MP and council officials is crucial to improvement of the drainage system, including these riparian issues.

Riparian owners, those living over blocked water courses (drainage channels, ditches and dykes), may well be liable to being held responsible for the clearing and repair work, they may be reliant on the success of the funding bid and Anglian Water in meeting the costs.

The Integrated Urban Drainage study for Canvey Island reveals that never before has the whole of the drainage network on Canvey Island been accurately charted!

Castle Point Borough Council, as Local Planning Authority, appear to assume no responsibility, as its Development Committee continue to approve development with the potential to overload the Island’s “broken” drainage system!

The revealing Dave Monk BBC Radio webcast can be accessed via this LINK.

Canvey drainage system – work still required. Local Planners to take note???

The first Saturday of 2015 brought some rainfall to Canvey Island. Whilst nowhere near as heavy as August 2013, or July 2014,  there were enough large puddles around the Island to indicate that further ongoing work is required from the main agencies responsible for the drainage system.

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A pumping vehicle had responded to a gulley in St Michaels, whilst Limburg Road having received attention remained slow to drain away. Craven Avenue, at Jones’ Corner proved a hazard to pedestrians collecting their daily paper as they dodged the spray from passing vehicles.

 Whilst the agencies can be observed working around the area, practical remedies are being undertaken, which is what is needed. The time for words and broken promises has long passed.

 The issues of Canvey drainage will not go away whilst the Integrated Urban Drainage study is being undertaken.

However Castle Point Council can be seen to continue to act irresponsibly.

The Local Plan remains unchallenged, more development planned for Canvey in the Plan;  Thorney Bay large development proposals coming forward for consideration.

 Essex County Council, Essex Highways, Anglian Water and the Environment Agency were all criticised for their part in the flooding last summer.

Strange to note that the one authority on hand, with local knowledge and expected to be acting on behalf of local residents, Castle Point Council, remain unchallenged on their part in the flooding!

 There can be no doubt that should a rainstorm similar to the 1 in 316 year event re-occur in the area, many people and properties will suffer.

Only following the Urban Drainage study can an educated “guess” be made on what impact new large housing development on Canvey will have on the drainage system

Before the drainage study is completed you will be considered a FOOL to under write approval for large scale development on Canvey.

Over to you CPBC planning authority and Local Plan Task and Finish group members!

Flood water? You deliver it, and the Environment Agency will dispose of it for you! Canvey’s broken system.

Concentrating on the important local matters rather than political point scoring, the Castle Point scrutiny committee met on Monday 3rd November to hear the evidence from Anglian Water (AW) and the Environment Agency (EA) on the July 2014 flooding on Canvey Island and across Castle Point.

Probably understandably, as feelings are still running high amongst those residents who suffered flood damage to property and their homes, the questioning failed to reveal some deeper issues.

View of Canvey Island flooding from Police Helicopter July 2014

View of Canvey Island flooding from Police Helicopter July 2014

The EA representative referred to the level of rainfall as being a 1 in 316 year event, which sounds quite specific given that the EA have no rain measuring devices on Canvey.

It was explained that the EA pumps that take water off of the Island, over the sea wall into the Estuary, are designed to a 1 in 200 year standard.

However highway drains are generally capable of dealing with only a 1 in 30 year rainfall event.

Now what would seem the obvious question was not raised, that is, what effect does dense urbanisation have on the drainage system on Canvey Island?

Surely Canvey’s flat topography and drainage ditches and dykes should be able to store a huge amount of rain water prior to delivery to the EA main pumps.

Quite clearly there is an issue with getting water moved around through the Island’s drainage system.

Last evenings presentation clearly identified that by over-developing vast areas of flat land, a tipping point will be reached whereby the drainage system will be over whelmed.

Perhaps we have arrived at that tipping point!

Add to this unscrupulous developer/s, apparently, and a lack of building inspection leading to, according to the AW rep, 600mm drainage pipe work being coupled down into 150mm pipe work thus restricting water flow, simply so that two buildings can be fitted onto a plot, rather than a single dwelling!

It appeared the EA representative was too polite to suggest that maybe much of the flooding issues were of our own, or Castle Point Council’s, making!

Surface Water flooding was a point of interest raised at the Task and Finish group meeting into the draft Local Plan housing constraints.

Apparently, as I understood, the lead officer suggested that surface water flooding was not considered to be a constraint on housing development!

This appears to suggest that building new dwellings in the flood risk areas of the Borough is intended, despite the potential risks and likely difficulties in securing house insurance!

The officer’s absence, along with the Task and Finish chairman, from last nights meeting on the flood issues with both the Environment Agency and Anglian Water present was noted.

The meeting should have presented an opportunity to discuss the communications breakdown during the July flood that left residents, apart from the Essex Fire and Rescue Service, were left to their own devices.

Castle Point Council, with nearly half of the Borough in a flood zone, offer no policy on sand bag provision. Residents telephoning CPBC for guidance were re-routed to an “out of hours” Careline service, over whelmed by the number of calls.

The Environment Agency rep should have heard the failings of Essex County (the Local Lead Flood Authority) and Castle Point Council. It might have made them (the EA) question the level of advice they offer on planning matters locally.

Message to Castle Point Council, Essex County Council, the Environment Agency, Scott Wilson: The CPBC Surface Water Management Plan – Spot the ridiculous Mistake!

A large investment is being spent on a Canvey Island Integrated Urban Drainage Study. It is hoped that it will reveal the actual condition of the drainage system.

Mainland residents do well to expect their ward representatives to draw the EA, AW and ECC Highways representatives notice to the flooding issues on the mainland. For with the amount of resources concentrated, quite rightly, on Canvey at present,  can only mean these limited resources are stretched, thereby leaving other areas vulnerable as the winter approaches.

It is already known that lengths of dykes have been filled in and some, along with other drainage pipes and channels are in private ownership. These complexities will limit the effectiveness of measures that are advised or implemented to the drainage system as a result of the Integrated Drainage Study.

However we must hope that the necessary new investment can be secured that will effect protection to most households. Results are expected to be arrived at around the middle of 2015. Decisions on the necessary upgrades will follow before funding, likely to be many £millions, is sought from national government.

The EA representative made clear that their pumps were installed to cope with fluvial water and not flooding from the sea or estuary.

The system will not deal with or offer protection from a breach in the sea defences. The amount of likely debris entering the drainage system in the event of a breach would likely block and possibly damage the system.

In the meantime the Local Plan with its housing requirements, progresses.

Floods Scrutiny: Canvey Island the Special Case, complacency, and the Pitt Review, lessons Not Learned!

Flooding came under the focus last night at the Castle Point Scrutiny meeting set up to consider the July 2014 rain storm.
The second meeting gave residents the opportunity to inform the committee the problems they faced and their issues in the aftermath.
Floods 2014 eastways
Residents gave heartfelt and harrowing accounts of losses and damage to belongings and property.
Accounts of residents’ first contact with Insurance companies on the whole appeared reasonably positive, however we also heard from residents that future flood insurance cover may be declined, premiums would rise dramatically or the excess sum on future claims would be prohibitive.

Castle Point Council must shoulder some blame for the flooding.
They have responsibilities to ensure that housing development was proportionate to the drainage system capacity.

There was an extraordinary amount of rainfall that fell on the day of the flooding, as did just 11 months earlier in August 2013, however the complex nature of the Island’s drainage system should have rung alarm bells earlier.
Whilst we have been reassured of the pumping capacity the neglect of the maintenance of the drainage system should have been challenged long ago.

Flood events do not occur on calm days. Whether during heavy rainfall, or stormy weather the likelihood of debris finding its way into the drainage system is highly probable.
The cost cutting by our Flood Authority, Essex County Council, has meant gulleys have not received an adequate clearing regime.

Over development has seen the loss of green fields. These green fields were supposed to alleviate flooding.
Canvey Island is at or below sea level with a high water table, however being generally flat this will allow water to disperse over a great area. With the continued high density development approved by Castle Point Council the value of this safeguard is now questionable.

The Environment Agency were cautious towards allowing development on Canvey Island until they were convinced that Canvey was a “special case” and were persuaded to allow CPBC take responsibility for housing development matters despite being a Flood Risk Zone.

The new Local Plan indicates an intention to develop 1,450 more properties in the next 20 years.

Previously, CPBC allowed the belief that the Environment Agency had imposed a moratorium on housing development at Canvey Island, whilst this was disproved there can be no doubt that a moratorium should be in place while this whole debacle is sorted out.
ECC have applied for £115,000 grant towards their responsibilities to prevent flooding on Canvey. Be assured this will go nowhere near addressing the inherent problems facing the drainage system.

The Environment Agency have responded to one of the Canvey Green Belt Campaign group enquiries. We were concerned that applications for two block of flats, one in a area affected by the recent flood, received no comment by the EA on the subject of potential surface water flooding.
They wrote:

“ The reason why we have not referred to surface water for the 2 examples you have provided (Flats at Canvey High Street and Leige Avenue) is not to do with their location on Canvey Island, but because both these sites are well under one hectare in size.

We are only a statutory consultee for applications for development sites over one hectare in size. For sites under this size, we provide advice and best practice for surface water management on our website as part of our Flood Risk Standing Advice for Local Councils. In both instances, in line with the NPPF, it should be ensured that new development does not increase flood risk either on or off site.”

Clearly the responsibility falls squarely on CPBC and the Development Committee’s shoulders whether these proposals were suitable. And yet hardly a word on surface water issues was included in the officer’s guidance notes.

Housing development built since 2009 will not be included in the Insurance flood guarantee scheme being draw up between the Government and the Insurance industry. And yet this is not a reason for refusal for housing development.

Once again the Canvey Green Belt Campaign group have made enquiries directly to the Association of British Insurers.
The Director General responded:

“The ABI strongly believes that unwise development in flood risk areas should not take place, and has made it clear that such developments may struggle to access property insurance.” O.Thoreson

And also:

“Flood Re will exclude developments since 2009 – just as the Statement of Principles did. This is because we do not want Flood Re to become an incentive for inappropriate development in areas at risk of flooding.” Aidan Kerr ABI Head of Property.

Castle Point Council have commissioned and adopted a Surface Water Management Plan document to use as evidence towards the new Local Plan.
This flawed document was produced with input from the Environment Agency, Scott Wilson, with Castle Point Council providing the “local knowledge.”
The “local knowledge” informed Scott Wilson that there was literally but one or two records of historic events of surface water flooding on Canvey Island.
The reason for this was not that there had been no previous flooding but that CPBC had failed to keep proper records as was their responsibility. This responsibility now falling upon Essex County Council as the lead Flood Authority.
The final misleading document, being adopted by Castle Point Cabinet during 2012 as it gave the green light to the amount of housing development on the Island that they desired.

The next Scrutiny meeting, date to be announced will see the various Agencies involved hopefully give some explanation as to what plans are now in place to prevent future flooding of properties following rainstorm.

In the meantime cllr Howard told the scrutiny committee and residents that “things are progressing” in the background with an imminent announcement due.

The involvement of the Government Scientist, at MP Rebecca Harris’ request, is paramount.
He / she must be made aware of previous “local issues” affecting decision making in the Borough and be free of these influences so as to examine the issues facing the drainage system on Canvey Island.

There is a view, which the Canvey Green Belt Campaign group do not disagree with, that the Environment Agency and the Planning Inspectorate have failed Canvey Island residents. Both appear unwilling to take strong decisive action where development in a flood risk area is concerned.
Essex County Council and Anglian Water have also hardly covered themselves in glory!

It is truly disappointing that the work and effort spent in producing the Pitt Review into the summer floods of 2007 has not seen an effective scheme developed in Castle Point.
I have reproduced comment from the BBC’s Roger Harrabin for consideration:

Scrap the Sand Bag.
The simplest unlearned lesson from Pitt: don’t put a sandbag in your doorway. Pitt recommended people to block doorways with a close-fitting flood board instead. But most flood victims haven’t. Did the government fail to get the message across or were homeowners complacent?
The Cash.
The Pitt report recommended above-inflation spending on flood defences
Historically, there seems to be a cycle of increased spending after a flooding event but it tends to taper off as the flood waters recede. (this is not conducive to a maintenance led policy, which Canvey’s drainage system appears reliant on).
Before the floods in 2007, funding had increased to £500m, but was still below the recommended level.
In the wake of 2007, there was another surge of spending that brought cash allocated up to a high point of £670m in 2010-11.
It has since dipped back below £600m.
As well as the amounts, questions have been raised about how the money is now spent.
A hard rain’s gonna fall
Pitt strongly recommended that people should be stopped from smothering gardens with hard surfaces that create run-off water. Rules have been implemented but enforcement is lax, and gardens are still being paved.

And I will finish with three of Roger Harribin’s points that appear most relevant to Canvey Island:

Sustainable drainage solutions
(“Unsuitable for Canvey Island” Scott Wilson).
Stop making it worse
Pitt said it was impractical to stop all building on floodplains but advised a strong presumption against it. He insisted that buildings should avoid creating flood problems for themselves or their neighbours.
Science Solutions
One of Pitt’s successes. The Environment Agency and the Met Office have worked together to produce five-day flood warnings, giving planners an extra 24 hours’ notice of floods.

Where the hell was the warning from the EA ahead of the July flood given the advance weather warning?
Hopefully all will be revealed at the next CPBC Scrutiny Meeting.

Environment Agency, Anglian Water, Essex County and Castle Point Council all on the spot where Canvey floods are concerned!

There appears a relief amongst some Castle Point Council members that we, as a Borough, can now point fingers at Essex County Council as the Lead Flood Authority for infrastructure deficiencies that add to flooding problems.
There have been un-contested instances in the past where our own local authority’s failings have added to residents problems.

Cllr Hurrell pointed out that it is wrong to suggest that the rainfall during August 2013 and July 2014 was a biblical event, far from it one only has to look at weather events on the near and distant continents to appreciate how bad weather can actually become, regardless of climate change.

He also requested that deeds rather than rhetoric was now required for the good of Castle Point residents.
Photo-opportunities and lunches with ministers, paper-over the state of Canvey’s drainage system.

In the Echo newspaper it is announced amongst the “hard work” being carried out by Essex County Council and Anglian Water is the creation of a hydraulic model to “help understand how the flooding occurs and prevent it happening in the future.”

It will need to be a very complex model to indicate the effects that the filling in and land grabbing of the dykes and the likely blocking of the drainage pumps by debris during storm events have on the system!

One piece of valuable research is being undertaken by ECC, a Flood Risk Assessment.

Castle Point’s own Strategic Water Management Plan (SWMP) document evidenced by local authority officers, and even more disappointingly given validity by the Environment Agency failed Canvey Island badly!

Historically no attempt had been made by CPBC to record flooding events therefore, hardly any flooding issues were believed to exist!
Blind-leading-the-blind
Cllr Stanley claimed in the Cabinet meeting as the SWMP was accepted as Local Plan evidence, that the mainland had more chance of being flooded than Canvey!

Two serious floods later and that claim was sadly put to bed!

Residents learned otherwise and regretfully events proved the effort and cost involved in producing Castle Points SWMP were wasted.

Paperwork will do nothing to convince residents that all is well and under control especially now that they have experienced property and belongings being damaged by flood water!

And yet this Surface Water Management Plan document is still allowed to stand as relevant evidence towards the new Local Plan.

Essex County Council have only been involved as the Lead Flood Authority for the last two years and already have made an application to Government for funds to alleviate surface water problems in the area.

This grant is likely to be in the region of £100,000.

However the survey of Canvey’s drainage system is likely to list many roads in need of serious work and extend to many reams of paper.

If done correctly the legal reclaiming ownership and uncovering of dykes, alongside the possible re-running of adequate sized drainage pipework, the clearing of gulleys and the dredging of the Canvey Lake and dykes will likely run into a 7 figure sum.

The calling of a Scrutiny meeting at Castle Point Borough Council offers the opportunity to not only monitor these efforts to correct previous failings, but also to make public, the real infrastructure issues currently affecting Canvey and certain parts of the mainland, ahead of the next stage of the new Local Plan work.

Surface Water problems never before were considered a constraint to housing development at Canvey Island, there can be no doubt that into the medium term they must be!

The insurance industry and Government’s scheme to guarantee home insurance for dwellings built in flood zones, FloodRe, excludes properties built since 2009. Properties built since then will likely be unprotected as far as home insurance premiums and excesses are concerned, even the possibility of insurance companies declining to offer protection.

The FloodRe insurance scheme itself, covered in a previous post here, is facing serious problems.

Caxtons Property posted:

“Brokers understand from Tom Woolgrove, the interim Flood Re CEO, who has been in discussions with Defra, that the government’s aim was to achieve investment by owners to protect property against flooding, and the ‘3 strikes’ would be an incentive to do so.

He said that Flood Re was “…working with them to make sure that this is proportionate but creates some incentive for policyholders to take action. There has to be some limit on the number of flood claims that Flood Re can reimburse before a policyholder takes some element of responsibility towards resilience measures.”

He implied that once the first claim had been made, Flood Re would encourage ‘and probably pay for’ a flood resilience survey.

Once a second claim had been made, the policyholder would be directed to invest in measures up to a financial limit.

If this has not been followed through when a third claim was made “essentially that policy will be unable to be ceded into Flood Re.

The Association of British insurers say the matter is even worse because in their view the proposals might not get regulatory approval as “a sustainable insurance vehicle”. A limit to Flood Re cash flows, in the industry’s opinion, are creating impossible problems.

Unless a resolution can be found to the problems, it is estimated that approximately 200,000 homes will suffer massive premium and excess level rises.

According to the industry, the lack of investment in UK flood defences has led to an undermining of their commitment to provide universal flood cover”

Above from Caxton’s July 24th 2014 Report:

And previously 15th July 2014:-

“A report by the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) concerning the effect on some flood-prone properties excluded from Flood Re, is considered so sensitive that it has not been made public.

The report warns that policyholders will be liable to severe increases in both premiums and excess levels on renewal.  It identifies examples of small brokers facing problems when sourcing and renewing property insurance for customers whose homes and businesses are in danger of flooding, and are excluded from Flood Re.

The document shows extreme examples of premiums rising from £2,000 to £25,000, policy excess hikes from hundreds to tens of thousands of pounds and in some cases, total exclusion from cover.

Ian Fletcher, director of policy at the British Property Federation, has said excluded properties should be incorporated into the scheme as a matter of urgency.

While we knew SMEs would be excluded from Flood Re, this is the first we have heard of large increases in premiums and policy excess. The report also warns that if small businesses can’t secure affordable flood insurance they would risk closure.”

There can be no doubt that the possibility of properties / homes and businesses going uninsured is an unsustainable problem.
This matter must be addressed by cllr Dave Blackwell as the chairman of the Scrutiny Committee considering the recent flooding and Cllr Colin Riley as the Leader of Castle Point Council.
There is no reason to indicate that they will not follow this issue through.
In the meantime withdraw the evidence that supposedly supports the sustainability in proposing new development at Canvey Island whilst our drainage is in its current condition!

The level of housing development initially proposed within the Core Strategy and then further proposed within the draft Local Plan will simply compound critical drainage issues.