SO, those accountable for the Castle Point’s regeneration, sustainability and growth agenda are seeking congratulations for the huge swathes of development of Canvey Island! The completion of this long term project seemingly being very advantageous to some current councillors and predecessors.
Convinced of the apparent sustainability of Canvey Island, investors of commercial and residential developments are completely reliant upon Environment Agency recommendations. Clearly the EA recognise that the Island’s sea defences are in need of further improvements, if only to keep pace with the ever more present impacts of a changing climate.
Claims that there is no need for concern, or that Canvey already has substantial sea defences, will not be helpful in formulating a business case for the funding of the inevitable improvement requirements.
CPBC’s failed bid for central government funding for the £24,500,000 needed to address the deficiency in the current drainage network, and fund capital projects to dramatically improve the drainage infrastructure across Canvey Island, is a clear indication that flood risk is NOT a priority issue.
CPBC have, on more than one occasion, been reminded by the Environment Agency that it is incorrect to assume that the maintenance of the flood defences is programmed as part the Thames Estuary (TE) 2100 Plan. To proclaim that the sustainability of Canvey Island is secured, for the foreseeable future, when that is simply not the case, may be questioned at a later date.
The TE2100 Plan provides for a flood management strategy for the whole of the Thames Estuary, and includes recommendations regarding necessary maintenance and improvements programmes to the engineered defences along the Thames Estuary. The final decision on these programmes will be made by Defra and future funding streams, however, at this time no funding is guaranteed!
In the knowledge of the consequences of a significant risk of flooding from a variety of events, to then subsequently continue increasing the population of Canvey Island, needs some explanation. To actively seek to increase those numbers of residents, including those that are “more vulnerable”, without having a viable emergency evacuation plan, may well be catastrophic!
For CPBC Local Plan to repudiate up-to-date flooding predictions, and to then persist with the continued development of historically designated land and brown field sites, within an already significantly urbanised and populated flood plain, possesses no logistical justification.
It has previously been stated by CPBC and supported by the EA that the delivery of new development must not be considered in isolation from the drainage issues in the Borough and that existing conditions should be improved and not exacerbated. Canvey Island is at the highest Risk of Surface Water flooding, with a high probability of Surface Water flooding across the Borough as a whole.
Inappropriate development, effectively removing space that served as water dispersal areas, will have consequences. Site selection criteria, as well as a Flood Risk Assessment, should be used to identify whether broad potential future locations for development represent the most appropriate choices in terms of flood risk.
CPBC have argued that without a Local Plan, the level of detail used to inform decisions of a strategic nature may not be as robust, especially regarding cumulative impacts. In addition, policy content can be used to set conditions on developments or determine their refusal in areas of flood risk.
I would argue that the Plan has always been to develop the zone 3 flood plain of Canvey Island regardless of any serious consequences.