Tag Archives: Environment Agency

Canvey Island development Free for All! Environment Agency weak approach encourages Castle Point Council’s laissez-faire attitude to Planning!

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!

July 2014photo3

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!

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Castle Point Council face Testicular Examination Ahead! Whilst Nuneaton Council act as Local Plan Pathfinders?

Having promised to stand firm over Infrastructure before more Housing, the new Castle Point Borough Council regime will now have their resolve fully tested by the Government’s team sent into the Borough to oversee progress on the Local Plan.

Riley+marchant

Residents, having shown confidence in the Lead group of councillors by giving them an increased majority at the May 2018 local elections, will be expecting them to be able to revive the latest withdrawn Local Plan following 12 months of intensive and “tireless” Duty to Cooperate work following the Examination inspector’s criticisms.

The protection of Green Belt was paramount to Residents concerns, and any backing away from the local authorities position will be open to criticism!

This may be particularly so in the light of promises to overturn the Borough Plan made in another area, Nuneaton, where the successful Conservative group promised to:

“Protect existing communities and deliver the roads, health and school services we need.
 Reduce the housing numbers based on new government guideline figures.
 Withdraw from Labour’s secret agreement to take Coventry’s overspill.” 

“Distribute housing more fairly around the Borough to enhance not destroy existing communities.”
 “Ensure our communities finally receive the much needed road improvements, schools, GPs, shops and essential facilities they deserve, 
 Prioritise Brownfield sites first, protecting our existing communities by removing unsuitable and unsustainable sites from Labour’s broken Borough plan.”

Andrew Lainton, of Decisions Decisions, Decisions blog suggests:

“However the Borough Plan is mid examination with initial findings due to be published this month.

As the inspectors findings are binding the only alternative to fulfill the manifesto would be to withdraw the local plan.

This would put the Council in special measures.” 

The Nuneaton Tory Group’s reference to Unsuitable and Unsustainable sites is interesting and should, but doubtfully will, provoke examination at Castle Point.

The wholesale blanket application of the Sequential Test across Canvey Island would, elsewhere, be expected to be deemed Unsustainable.

In effect despite being a flood Zone 3a, any Housing Development proposed for Canvey Island is deemed appropriate!

This is evidenced in each and every Application paperwork by officers, following councillors instruction, having “persuaded” the Environment Agency that Canvey Island is a Special Case!

An illustration of this, taken from the cpbc Annual Monitoring Report 2016-17 states; “It should be noted that there is no specific policy on flood risk included within the Local Plan (1998 adopted version) and therefore the Council relies on national policy set out in the National Planning Policy Framework and its technical guidance in respect of such matters.

Of course since then the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment has recognised that Canvey Island is at Actual Risk of Tidal Flooding and the Integrated Urban Drainage Study was researched and published following the 2014 Summer Flooding of Canvey Island!

Castle Point councillors, those involved on the development committee at least, appear willing to accept responsibility for future Flooding of housing and danger to residents, whether from Surface Water or Tidal.

So far that has paid handsomely. Over time and following Flood events, that may prove less so, as Housing built since the 1st January 2009 is not eligible for the Flood Re Insurance Protection that makes available affordable insurance.

Should this problem emerge mortgages on “new” builds may well be denied due to insurance issues. New Canvey Island House Buyers may well be walking into this trap unaware.

The development of Canvey Island both Industrial and Housing continues unabated, this will intensify the pressures on the already broken drainage system, and road and health service infrastructures.

The cpbc Annual Monitoring Report also states, “the proportion of new homes provided on previously developed land to remain lower than in earlier years.”

and that, even more worryingly; 

“16 affordable housing units were delivered in Castle Point in 2016/17, representing 14% of total housing provision (114 dwellings). This level of provision is an improvement on the annual average provision for the period 2001 to 2016 of 11.5%,”

An example of the inadequacy of our local authority is illustrated within the cpbc Sequential test documentation to support the first of the local plans, the Core Strategy, in which it was admitted “The Environment Agency met with the Council in 2007 to identify criteria under which they would allow development to proceed on Canvey Island. The final criterion was the need to ensure that the Emergency Planners and Emergency Services were satisfied with the measures in place to ensure safety in the event of a flood.

These services had not been consulted in the preparation of PPS25, and as such this requirement was a surprise to them, for which they were not prepared.

A typical approach by developers to overcome the Constraint on Housing by Flood Risk on Canvey Island and acceptable to CPBC is demonstrated here;

  • “The application site is located on Canvey Island, which is situated entirely within Flood Risk Zone 3a,
  • The Council has undertaken an annual review of Strategic Housing Land Availability (SHLAA) since 2011. This process has consistently indicated the need for a greater supply of housing land to meet the objectively assessed housing needs of the borough.
  • When applying a sequential test it is important to have regard to the local context. Canvey Island is a distinctive community, accommodating 43% of the borough’s population. It has specific identified needs in terms of social, economic and physical regeneration, as well as housing.
  • In order for residential development to serve the community of Canvey Island it is considered that it needs to be located within that settlement.”

The Level of delivery of Affordable Housing and the continued influx of new Residents from outside of the Area onto Canvey Island suggest that “residential development to serve the community of Canvey Island” is simply too broad a sweeping statement intended to be a means of simply granting Planning Permission to bolster the BOROUGH’s Housing Supply in an Unsuitable Location!

It would appear unusual, if not unreasonable, for a local authority to seek to increase the Urban Density by developing Green field land and intensifying Brownfield development,  supposedly under the guise of satisfying the Need of the Canvey Island Community, when in effect it simply intensifies Inward Migration, in an area specifically under the threat of both Tidal and Surface Water Flood Risk!

We eagerly look forward to learn what Resolve, Metal, Determination and hopefully Fairness, the new administration at Castle Point council are able to apply to the ongoing Local Plan process in the shadow of Government Intervention!

local plan.jpg-pwrt3

Like a bad Smell, this just will not Go Away!

The full Decisions Decisions, Decisions post may be read HERE.

Canvey Island Sea Wall Erosion, should be the Real Focus of CPBC’s Attention. Residents again being kept in the Dark?

The condition of the Canvey Sea Wall, or Sea Defence system, is causing serious concern, despite the lack of news or information.

The cause, which should not be too surprising, is currently under investigation.

Further inland on Canvey a large Green Belt site, identified as being deliverable and developable by Castle Point borough council, was the subject of a pre-development Ground Investigation Report, probably the first, and most thorough investigations of its type on Canvey Island, to be made public via the cpbc planning portal.

The Ground Investigation Report indicated what should be serious concerns to the cpbc development committee and planning officers, should they refer to it and give it the respect it warrants.

We suspect, however, committee members are unaware of its existence!

Despite this site being a full Kilometre from the Estuary, the effects of tidal water which surrounds Canvey Island have been found!

The Ground Investigation Report was carried out to consider what Risk the subsoil and water table might have on development structures, such as Housing.

It found;

Geotechnical Risks*
Poor bearing capacities of the low strength / loose soils;
Aggressive ground and groundwater conditions
Shallow groundwater (possibly under tidal influence)

The High Water table found on Canvey Island is well known to residents, however what was surprising is that this water consisted of a level of saline, or sea water, content!

In effect our Sea Defence is incapable of stopping Tidal Water from penetrating UNDER the sea wall.

If these influences can be found 1 kilometre from the sea wall, how much more damaging are they to the Sea Defence itself?

The constant changes via the ground water saturation and drying processes, and the less than stable subsoil beneath the Sea Defence foundations will over time, challenge the longevity of the structure. Whilst the effects of the Tide itself is more obvious!

20180105_09415720180105_09414420180105_094013

The effects of the more frequent passing of larger and larger transport vessels along the Thames, requires monitoring, as does the constant dredging.

As recently as September 2017 we were reassured that these Sea Defences are “well maintained”, and whilst these images probably indicate superficial damage we have learnt that the Environment Agency have identified some areas of the Sea Defence causing them serious concerns!

The Environment Agency are known to have carried out surveying inspection works and are considering what steps are required to maintain the integrity of the Canvey Island Sea Defence.

*Geotechnical engineering is the branch of civil engineering concerned with the engineering behaviour of earth materials

China Crisis = Answer to Canvey Island issues? Or – Castle Point’s Broken Local Plan Process “the continued development of Canvey Island is necessary”???

“The continued development of Canvey Island is necessary to sustain the local community and prevent the social and economic blight of the settlement.”

So say, Castle Point borough council planning officers in their programmed approach to avoiding objections to each and every proposal for development on Canvey Island.

This programmed response, supporting perpetual development, is in respect of evading opposition and objection to the “Special Case” position the officers are ordered to adopt in consideration of Canvey’s Flood Risk Exception test.

Whilst Constraints on development in other areas of the borough are sited and strictly adhered to, as a matter of policy, similar approach to Canvey Island proposals appear less rigorously imposed.

Given that Canvey development should be constrained by the fact that the Island is a tidal Flood Risk Zone 3a area, is now deemed a Critical Drainage Area following the surface water flooding during 2014 and previously, as well as being the location of 2 Top Tier Comah hazardous industrial sites.

That there is only one access / egress point, that the Island’s dedicated Rapid Response (paramedic) Vehicle is being withdrawn and that, like other areas the Police and the Fire and Rescue service presence has diminished.

These factors, one would think given Canvey Island’s geographical position, may cause outsiders to wonder why castle point borough council planning department should be so manipulative, when they recite such Unsound Drivel as “the continued development of Canvey Island is necessary to sustain the local community and prevent the social and economic blight of the settlement”!

Higher up the local government ladder the planning department superiors have indentified in contrast, that on tidal Flood Risk alone, they consider that the population of Canvey Island should be limited to the level prior to 2011, OR LESS!

However cpbc Cabinet, Councillors, Officers and Planners ALL choose to ignore this apparently sensible and cautious approach to Housing Numbers, one can only assume, so as to limit the levels of apparently necessary, but unpopular, Housing Need elsewhere in the Borough!

Now whilst our local “public servants” propose and impose yet more development, both Housing and Industrial, onto Canvey Island under the pretext that, “the continued development of Canvey Island is necessary to sustain the local community and prevent the social and economic blight of the settlement” they would do well to appreciate what is going on far from here.

Local decision makers, in their desperation to support the Borough’s income stream and limit the perceived Housing Need on the mainland, are willing to overlook potential Hazards and Constraints that should, by Rights, limit the ever-increasing Canvey Island Population Growth, through the means of our broken Local Plan process!

This Blindfolded and Wreckless approach to Development Planning on Canvey Island, has directly led to the flooding of many properties during 2013 / 2014, and is continued unabated, despite the clear warning towards adoption of a more cautious approach following the Calor escape of 163 tonnes of liquified gas forming a  vapour cloud over the Island!

Whilst the efforts of the Essex Fire and Rescue Service to convince cpbc members that their vastly reduced level of cover for Canvey Island would be adequate in the event of a major accident at either of the 2 Hazardous sites, their claim should not serve as supporting evidence for continually increasing the Population of Canvey.

Castle Point, we believe, would be totally justified in adopting a Limited Population Approach to its Housing Supply through its Local Plan Process, especially where Canvey Island is concerned.

This approach would be fully justified and would protect local builders and developers alike.

An ever-increasing population has little or no justification in any of the reasons recited by cpbc in its flimsy evidence to direct the levels of development growth towards Canvey Island, indicated in their various versions of failed Local Plans .

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It is Amazing then to discover that a Far Eastern Country should have adopted a Plan that puts concerns for its Population and Environment first, by recognising the Need to Limit Population Levels.

Whilst we do not compare the population levels of Shanghai and Canvey Island, it does indicate that limiting population, rather than the contrived reasoning behind the proposal for the ever-increasing population numbers policy, as applied by Castle Point Council Strategic and Local Planners!

 “China’s financial hub of Shanghai will limit its population to 25 million people by 2035 as part of a quest to manage “big city disease”, authorities have said.

The State Council said on its website late on Monday the goal to control the size of the city was part of Shanghai’s masterplan for 2017-2035, which the government body had approved.
“By 2035, the resident population in Shanghai will be controlled at around 25 million and the total amount of land made available for construction will not exceed 3,200 square kilometres,” it said.
State media has defined “big city disease” as arising when a megacity becomes plagued with environmental pollution, traffic congestion and a shortage of public services, including education and medical care.

But some experts doubt the feasibility of the plans, with one researcher at a Chinese government thinktank describing the scheme as “unpractical and against the social development trend”.
Migrant workers and the city’s poor would suffer the most, predicted Liang Zhongtang last year in an interview with state media, when Shanghai’s target was being drafted.

The government set a similar limit for Beijing in September, declaring the city’s population should not exceed 23 million by 2020. Beijing had a population of 21.5 million in 2014. Officials also want to reduce the population of six core districts by 15% compared with 2014 levels.
To help achieve this goal authorities said in April some government agencies, state-owned companies and other “non-core” functions of the Chinese capital would be moved to a newly created city about 100 kilometres south of Beijing.
An exact date for when those offices will have to move has not been set, but Beijing officials have already begun reshaping the city’s population.

Tens of thousands of migrant workers were evicted from their homes beginning in November, after authorities launches a 40-day crackdown on unsafe buildings in the wake of a fire.
Many of China’s biggest cities also face surging house prices, stirring fears of a property bubble. Beijing and Shanghai have enacted strict rules on who can purchase property and the two cities are the most vulnerable if prices begin to tumble.
Shanghai had a permanent population of 24.15 million at the end of 2015, the official Xinhua news agency said last year.
The city has also said it would intensify efforts to protect the environment and historic sites as part of its masterplan.” *

As a further reminder, we make no apologies for reminding readers of the devastating effects on households Hazardous Accidents have the potential to cause, as seen in this Video recording.

Grateful thanks go to Ian Silverstein for use of his video.

*Report filed for the Guardian by; Benjamin Haas in Hong Kong and agencies
@haasbenjamin
Tue 26 Dec ‘17
Reuters contributed to this report

And for those who have read this far, here is a link to some music – China Crisis’ recording of “Wishful Thinking”.

We thought the title appropriate!

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

 

Canvey Island Residents left Bamboozled by Flood Protection Funding Maze!

The flooding of Canvey Island during the summers of 2013 and 2014 and the ongoing concerns of a repeat event have been the subject of recent local news reports and social media posts.

A recent visit was carried out by the Government under Secretary of State for the Environment, Thérèse Coffey MP to meet a delegation of CPBC councillors and officers and representatives of the multi agency partnership to view the work carried out so far in response to the 2014 flooding.

Press reports suggested that time was spent observing the achievements rather than viewing areas of the Island’s drainage scheme that remained to be upgraded.

For instance, Essex Highways have accounted for a promised routine improvement of Canvey’s road gully maintenance, whereas in fact certain roads gullies on the Island have not received any cleansing for a number of years! And yet apparently huge sums of central funding has been claimed by ECC, whilst routine work is neglected.

Essex Highways claim, “that (they) have shown its commitment by investing more than £1 million of additional funding to help tackle localised problems such as blocked gullies”, appears to have gone unchallenged by cpbc representatives, whilst they should be fully aware that regular routine maintenance is not carried out, except perhaps in those areas that were previously reported flooded.

The implication in this case being, prevention is not better than cure!

It cannot be denied that keeping the profile high on the amount of work needed to upgrade Canvey’s drainage system is a very good thing, but the release of central funding must be used on tangible works.

Canvey residents, whose properties suffered from the flooding during 2014 have been urged to make a claim for a grant towards installing Flood Prevention measures.

This encouragement to claim by council officials, appears to indicate a concession that future flood events may well occur, despite the work carried out so far, or that the maintenance programme and upgrading of the drainage system, reliant on the £24,000,000 grant from Government, may well not be forthcoming.

However, the ease of residents seeking access to funding for the installation of flood prevention measures appears not so easy to locate, despite the encouragement from local representatives.

A visit to our local authority’s website seeking residents funding reveals only;

Castle Point Council

“Council Tax Discount for properties affected by flooding on 20th July 2014. Deadline Extended to 30.11.2014”

Using a little initiative a search for and read of the famous 6 Point Plan reveals a lead;

“Following detailed investigations, the group envisages this scheme benefiting around 15,000 high risk properties – or around 40,000 residents – on the Island. It is estimated that these measures will require an additional £500,000 of allocated funding to support the PLP package, which was introduced in September of this year. This scheme will continue to be run and managed by Essex County Council in their role as Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA).”

The impliction being all properties on Canvey are subject to some level of surface water flood risk.

This led us to then log onto the ECC website where upon, using a couple of search words the following was discovered, an application area for qualifying residents of the whole  of Essex, not just Canvey Island, to claim for flood prevention measures. Disappointingly the situation is not as rosy as some, having suffered flooding, may have wished;

Essex County Council

“Please note: Due to the high number of applications, we’re currently unable to confirm if your application will be successful.

We will notify you as soon as the status of your application changes.”

It is a concern that an element of transparency regarding whether some of this may be old or new money being granted and whether grants are being used in central budgets, as we know of the multi agency partnership Essex Highways for one, are over stating their commitment!

The Castle Point Conservatives post on social media from the MPs and delegates meeting reads;

Thérèse Coffey MP, the Parliamentary under Secretary of State for the Environment, visited Castle Point at the request of local MP Rebecca Harris. The Minister was invited to see the joint work that Essex County Council, Anglian Water, the Environment Agency and Castle Point Borough Council have undertaken to reduce the risk of future flooding and hear what progress has been made on the Six Point Plan Proposal.

Canvey Island was especially badly flooded in the summers of 2013 and 2014 and in the aftermath of the flooding a Multi-Agency Partnership (MAP) was formed between Essex County Council, Anglian Water, The Environment Agency and Castle Point Borough Council to prevent future flooding. The MAP created a 6 Point Plan setting out actions that the agencies could undertake to increase resilience to surface water flooding. The Plan includes: property level flood protection; dredging Canvey Lake; Increasing capacity of the drainage infrastructure by building an Integrated Urban Drainage Model for Canvey; create the Canvey Resilient Communities Programme; development of innovative flood management technologies and investment in green surface water storage.

During the visit the Environment Agency’s Eastern Region Deputy Director, Charles Beardall, and Anglian Water’s Head of Flood Risk Management, Jonathan Glerum, explained to the Minister the work done so far on the Integrated Urban Drainage model and the significant investment made into the various pumping stations around the Island and on the Benfleet Creek Barrier.

The Minister also visited Canvey Lake where Castle Point Borough Council’s CEO, David Marchant, and Essex County Council’s Head of Environment and Flood Management, John Meehan, updated the Minister on the progress made on the 6 Point Plan to date. They also touched on future challenges facing the MAP.

Following the visit, Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey MP said “Protecting people from flooding is an absolute priority, which is why we are spending more than £1 million to refurbish floodgates and on work investigating new local defences on Canvey Island.

“I was delighted to see first-hand what’s being done on the ground to better protect the community and will continue to follow the work with interest.”

Commenting, Castle Point MP Rebecca Harris said “I would like to thank the Minister for taking the time out of her busy schedule to visit Castle Point. We have made real progress to ensure that residents don’t suffer the terrible flooding of 2014 again and I am pleased that the Minister had the chance to see the progress first hand. There is still however more to do and I will be making sure that the County Council, Borough Council, Anglian Water and Environment Agency continue to work well together.

Cllr Ian Grundy, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Highways, said “Essex County Council is proud to be part of the Multi-Agency Task Group which works to reduce the flood risk in Canvey. Friday’s visit from MP Thérèse Coffey offered a welcome opportunity to increase awareness of the key challenges we all face and how we are working collaboratively to find solutions.

“Since the task group was formed in 2014/15, Essex Highways has shown its commitment by investing more than £1 million of additional funding to help tackle localised problems such as blocked gullies and defective pipework in Canvey. We are also investing a further £500,000 over the next two years to address broader drainage issues. Our colleagues in Flood Management have invested £600,000 and will have protected 100 properties as part of their Property Protection scheme and have done numerous floods studies to target our future investments

“Essex Highways and the Flood Management team pride themselves on being innovative in their approach to deliver more, for less, for the taxpayer. We will continue to be a keen contributor to the work of the Multi-Agency Task Group, with a focus on delivering greener, more sustainable solutions to help solve these issues.” “

Jonathan Glerum, Anglian Water’s Head of Flood Risk Management, said “We were delighted to welcome the Minister to Canvey and show her the great partnership work that has been delivered. The approach to multi-agency working that has been developed on Canvey is a game changer and has delivered significant investment in flood mitigation on the island.”

“Anglian Water has invested over £2million on improvements to our drainage network on the Island and is committed to continued working with partners, and Government, as we look to develop and deliver innovation solutions to flood risk management for Canvey.”

Environment Agency’s Eastern Region Deputy Director, Charles Beardall, said “The day was a great opportunity to highlight the scale of the Environment Agency’s investment on Canvey, from our ongoing maintenance work to significant improvements to the protection of properties from main river flooding. It also gave us a chance to showcase our work with partner organisations as they look at future options to reduce surface water flood risk.”

Castle Point Borough CEO, David Marchant, said “All of the agencies involved were able to demonstrate to the Minister how much progress they have made since the disastrous flooding of 2013/14. Working together we have invested or plan to invest nearly £6m in accordance with the Six Point Plan to ensure the existing network operates as effectively as possible. However there is still more to do but the unique nature of the drainage system means that innovation in design is necessary particularly when the essential balance between the environment and critical drainage infrastructure on Canvey Lake has to be maintained.”

Canvey Councillor Ray Howard MBE, Castle Point Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Waste and Flooding, said ‘It was very encouraging to have a Minister of the Crown visit Canvey Island. The Minister showed a great interest in our previous flooding problems and assured us that her department would do all they could to assist in future flooding matters’.

One thing appears absolutely clear is that despite some claims to the contrary, the possibility of a repeat of the devastating events is now accepted by many agency representatives!

Continued Development Necessary, for Canvey Island to Thrive Economically and Socially, despite the Hazards!

Is there a point where it becomes inconsiderate, down right fool-hardy or plain morally wrong, to Plan to continually increase the population of Canvey Island?

Or have we already reached the stage where Castle Point Council’s policies have left the Island over populated?

Currently the policy of Castle Point Council is clear, it intends to continue to develop Housing and Business properties on the Island as a necessity as, “it is considered that continued development is necessary in order that the settlement of Canvey can continue to thrive economically and socially.”

Canvey Island, as all residents, prospective and current, should know, is at Actual Risk of Tidal Flooding, suffers from Surface Water Flooding and is home to 2 Top Tier COMAH sites, Oikos and Calor.

In addition to this OIKOS have permission to expand its facilities having had this proposal approved; Construction of a new deep water jetty facility consisting of the refurbishment of and extension to the existing OSL Jetty, refurbishment of an existing 12 tank storage compound and the undertaking of related operational and site infrastructure works.

Calor currently have gas import facility via its own jetty.

Entry and Exit of Canvey Island is possible from just one point, Waterside Farm Roundabout.

Should there be an incident of any type the Council wish Residents, in the first instance, to Shelter.

Sheltering, “is normally the preferred option. This involves residents being asked to stay in their homes, close all doors and windows, tune into local media sources and await further instructions, or the all clear from the emergency services.

The evacuation of residents is normally a last resort, however should the emergency pose a significant risk, then it may be the only viable option.”

So before any reader gets too carried away with us being Scare-mongerers, the possibility of an incident that may require Evacuation of the Island exists and cpbc recognise it!

However the only examination , albeit some years ago, into the logistics of an Evacuation found that the timescale could involve taking over 19 hours! This was prior to the introduction of Traffic Lights at Sadlers Farm Roundabout and the increase in population recorded in the 2011 Census!

It must be assumed that the 19 hours estimated would have been for an orderly evacuation exercise.

In practise the Summer Floods of 2014 gave a clear indication of the capacity of the Escape Routes. In particular Canvey Way became blocked, as per usual. This in turn actually stopped the Emergency Services, in this case the Environment Agency, from attending the Drainage Pumps that were either malfunctioning or had lost electrical power!

The Environment Agency reported to ECC “The flood water on the Island made conditions difficult for our engineers to move between pumping stations, this in turn made the response to the ongoing problems at the pumping stations more challenging.”

Essex County Council concluded;

” As such, the impact on flood risk of any new proposals for development (on Canvey Island) or alterations to permeable land, for example the paving of gardens, needs to be considered very carefully and impermeable surfaces avoided where possible. .”

Many moons ago our local authority made an effort to communicate to each household, measures to be taken by Residents should a Flood occur, this has long since ceased!

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The 2005 Buncefield incident is relative to Canvey Island. Canvey’s 2 Hazardous Industrial Sites in liaison with Essex County Council have their own Emergency Plans. That  only certain limited information is shared with just the absolute closest of neighbouring residents, highlights the lack of Preparedness of the vast majority of Islanders. The potential for the whole of Canvey to be badly affected by an “accident” at either Hazardous Site exists.

The Hertford Police updated Buncefield Residents;

“Whilst this operation is ongoing there will be increased settlement of dust and soot particles as the temperature cools under the plume of smoke over the Hemel Hempstead area. We would remind residents of messages relayed yesterday that these dust and soot particles are an irritant which can cause coughing, irritation to the eyes and nausea – particularly to elderly, those with existing respiratory problems and young people. Wherever possible, people in the Hemel Hempstead area should continue to ‘go in, stay in and tune in’ to media bulletins and avoid all unnecessary journeys.

Those people who work in the area were also asked to make contact with their own companies and not to go anywhere near the area until advised it was safe to do so.

Warnings were also issued through the media that slowing or stopping to film the ongoing incident on mobile phones or other devices was not only a possible danger to the safety of road users but was also likely to constitute a criminal offence.

At this time, the advice remains to people in the affected area to stay indoors, close windows and watch/listen to news bulletins for updates. This advice is especially relevant to people who have some form of respiratory condition such as asthma or bronchitis.”

It is apparent that there is a strong case for an open and transparent engagement with Canvey Residents, so that it is clear what actual At Risk Register, dangers exist and the responses required of Residents. Being unaware is a Recipe for Panic!

“In COMAH, there is a requirement to share information between
site operators and Category 1 and 2 responders in order to fulfil the requirements
of the duty for risk assessment, warning and informing the public and the
preparation of on-site and off-site emergency plans.”

The argument that keeping Residents in the Dark so as to protect property  prices and encourage further development, is a Reckless Policy!

We are reminded that Castle Point has an ageing population, many Residents can be considered At Risk. There is a need for an At Risk Register. There is a need for an Able to Assist Register.

An Informed Community, can be better Prepared to React and Respond correctly and. those able, be in a position to assist.

However the Castle Point policy; “that continued development is necessary in order that the settlement of Canvey can continue to thrive economically and socially” appears to ignore any possibility that any incident or “accident” could endanger Residents and property, or that there is adequate resources on standby ready to respond to any eventuality without Residents assistance.

Meanwhile Castle Point council have published their new Emergency Response Plan.

We have added a link to the document HERE.