Tag Archives: Flood Re

Canvey Island, the Development “Special Case” and Castle Point Council Failings!

Of late there have been reasons enough to query the sense in planning to over populate Canvey Island!

Following the “disputed” moratorium of housing development on Canvey, blamed upon the Environment Agency, a successful bid for Canvey Island to be viewed as a “Special Case” was launched.

Below follows the Castle Point committee meeting minutes whereby this cautious approach was over-turned and afterwards comes comment on the possibility of people investing in new properties with the danger of experiencing extremely high flood risk premiums or even finding themselves unable to secure flood risk cover at all.

We conclude with some Planning guidance that may suggest that development on Flood Zones and indeed in the Green Belt could, indeed should, be avoided.

We hope you find this locally enlightening.

Castle Point Borough Council decision to remove restriction of developing the Zone 3 flood plain of Canvey Island.

PLANNING COMMITTEE MINUTES
6TH FEBRUARY 2007
PRESENT:
Councillors Smith (Vice-Chairman who chaired the meeting), Anderson, Cole, Cross, Dixie, E. Egan, Mrs Goodwin, R.C. Howard, Riley and B.S. Wood
Councillors Mrs Challis Mrs B. Egan, Ladzrie and Mrs Liddiard
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Blackwell, Mrs Iles, Sharp and Mrs J.Govier.
73. PLANNING POLICY STATEMENT 25: DEVELOPMENT & FLOOD RISK
The Committee was informed and discussed the new amended national policy on development and flood risk set out in Planning Policy Statement 25, published in December 2006 which contained new and amended planning policies to mitigate and avoid the impact of flooding through good planning and flood risk management.
The Committee had previously commented on the consultation on the draft PPS 25 at the meeting on 7.2.2006.
The report before the Committee described the structure of PPS 25 which contained five sections covering background; key planning objectives; decision making principles; risk based approach and responsibilities; supported by a further eight annexes.
Members considered the implications for Castle Point arising from PPS25. The new PPS would have a particular bearing on the work for the Local Development Frame work and on the consideration of planning applications.
In terms of planning policy work, a strategic flood risk assessment had been prepared for Thames Gateway South Essex authorities and was to be published by Spring 2007. This would help inform the preparation of the Core Strategy by identifying broad locations within Castle Point and other authorities that would be appropriate locations for development.
In development control and for the purposes of PPS25, Canvey Island was located in Flood Zone 3 (High Probability), because the PPS ignored the presence of existing defences (acknowledged to be some of the most comprehensive in the country). Accordingly the requirement for flood risk assessments to accompany planning applications had also been in place for some time and in particular the application of both the sequential test and the exceptions test.
Planning Committee – 6th February 2007
This initially caused difficulties, particularly for smaller scale development, because of the uncertainty over requirements for these assessments and their relevance and applicability to such schemes. However experience had suggested that through discussion with the Environment Agency, developers, agents and landowners were now clearer about, first the requirements of the these tests, but more importantly, secondly, how to carry out development whilst at the same time mitigating the risk associated with flooding through careful design at the application stage.
Resolved –
1. That the Committee notes the policy guidance and advice of PPS 25.
2. That the Committee have regard to the guidance and advice in the preparation of the Local Development Documents and in the consideration of relevant planning applications, in order to achieve the Council’s community priorities and deliver sustainable development.
Chairman.

However the Insurance Industry does not share the Councils optimism
The short term solution Flood Re is a scheme funded by a levy on insurers that reinsures their customers’ flood risk, allowing them to offer flood insurance to those homes at risk at a more affordable price.
One of the most important aspects of Flood Re is that it provides time for insurers, the government and homeowners to address deficiencies in planning policy, invest in flood defences and improve the resilience of housing stock. The scheme is intended to be operational for 25 years, during which time there will be a role for central and local government, the insurance industry, environmental organisations, housing providers and homeowners in tackling flood risk. After this 25 year period, the Flood Re scheme assumes that improvements in flood resilience, as well as more sophisticated and readily available flood data will leave the insurance industry in a position to offer more affordable cover in a risk-reflective free market.
Properties built since 2009 are not eligible for Flood Re, which in theory should introduce pressure on planners to fully consider flood risk before new homes are built. However there remains a challenge in ensuring that a new property’s flood risk is properly communicated both to the buyer and the insurance industry, so that both parties can avoid any shocks further down the line.
As well as providing a period of breathing space for industry and policymakers, Flood Re also intends to provide a point of focus for the next 25 years, to continue the debate about addressing the root of the environmental and planning issues. But the inescapable realities of climate change, coupled with a seeming lack of a long-term approach to investment in flood defence measures means that the success of these ambitious plans is far from guaranteed.

Planning Guidance tells us that when :

Applying the Sequential Test in the preparation of a Local Plan;
“As some areas at lower flood risk may not be suitable for development for various reasons and therefore out of consideration, the Sequential Test should be applied to the whole local planning authority area to increase the possibilities of accommodating development which is not exposed to flood risk.
More than one local planning authority may jointly review development options over a wider area where this could potentially broaden the scope for opportunities to reduce flood risk and put the most vulnerable development in lower flood risk areas”.
The latest Castle Point Local Plan failed the Duty to Cooperate requirement. The Examining Planning Inspector noted in his failure Report:

Indeed, the officer report of July 2014 which set out the full document representations on the draft New Local Plan (CP/05/008) includes the following as an action point:

Given that the Council has not been able to identify a sufficient supply of housing to meet its objectively assessed needs, it is also necessary to engage with neighbouring authorities under the auspices of the Duty to Cooperate in order to determine how the objectively assessed need for housing, and other strategic matters, will be addressed within the housing market area.

However, notwithstanding the lengthy and detailed engagement across south Essex there is no formal mechanism in place to distribute unmet housing need.

The problem is that this is once again only guidance and we have often been reminded by CPBC planning officers of this fact when they deliberate on planning proposal for Canvey Island.
It would seem that any guidance that has not been fulfilled can be ignored, as far as Canvey Island is concerned, as it is only for consideration purposes.

Canvey Island Population set to grow despite, ASPIRATIONAL Sea Defence improvements and Flood Re Insurance being unavailable!

A “proposed” new development of Flats for Canvey Island that WILL receive Approval from Castle Point Council reveals 3 serious issues.

Firstly it is correct to point out that the proposed Flats are in the Canvey Island town centre, and if anywhere is to be developed here is more appropriate so as to assist the regeneration of the town centre Retail outlets, under threat from out of town local authority preferences.

The first issue is the continued increase in population in the Flood Risk Zone of Canvey Island. Castle Point councillors and officers appear to be relaxed and show little moral concern in locating more and more people into an area at some risk of both surface water and tidal flooding.

Secondly a point given no relevance by the same Castle Point members and officers is that Canvey Island, being a FLOOD Plain is reliant on its sea defences.

 

sea wall damage

Previous damage acts as reminder of the Tidal power.

 

These sea defences will need to be raised and improved prior to the year 2100, as clearly explained by the area’s Strategic Flood Risk Assessment, to prevent potential over-topping! The potential for a breach in the defences remains.

Whilst the Environment Agency, recognising Canvey Island is a “special case”, emit the music to Castle Point’s ears “have no objection to the proposals”, however in this case feel it of the most importance to make very clear to our Local Authority the uncertainty that faces Canvey Island’s sea defence!

The EA warns;

“The TE2100 Plan is an aspirational document, rather than a definitive policy, so whether the defences are raised in the future will be dependent on a cost benefit analysis and the required funding becoming available.”

“When determining the safety of the proposed development, you should take this uncertainty over the future flood defences and level of flood protection into account.

This may require consideration of whether obtaining the funds necessary to enable the defences to be raised in line with climate change is achievable.”

Thirdly, much has been said about the benefits and protection that the Flood Re insurance scheme delivers. However this scheme will NOT benefit residential properties built post January 2009!

As a director of the Flood Re scheme pointed out to the Canvey Green Belt Campaign group, the idea of the insurance scheme is NOT to encourage development in Flood Zones!

Going by previous development committee meetings you will not hear these 3 matters discussed. Officers will make a strong point of informing members that the Environment Agency “have no objection to the proposals”.

Consequently, the level of population of Canvey Island at Risk from Flooding, continues to Grow!

Canvey Flooding, safe escape route too Congested?

Canvey residents are often questioned whether they are scaremongering when they express concerns over flooding and emergency issues. Now we learn through the Echo that CPBC’s own emergency planner has expressed concern that both the Environment Agency and the Lead Local Flood Authority remain concerned over potential flooding issues at Persimmon’s proposed development at the Dutch Village Canvey.

Floods 2014 pic via Police Helicopter

View of Canvey Island flooding from Police Helicopter July 2014

This apparent “good news” must be treated with some caution as the developer appears confident that the concerns can all be addressed.

The cpbc emergency planner has requested a copy of the evacuation plan, although a copy can be found on the cpbc planning portal.

Extracts from the developer Persimmon’s emergency Evacuation Plan may be of interest;

“The developer’s reasonability (Freudian slip, perhaps?) will end upon completion of the construction of the site.”

“Residents should remain in their dwellings until the emergency services or statutory bodies have advised that it is safe to leave. This could be for a pre-longed period of time (days rather than hours).”

“Whilst occupants can potentially remain at the site services such as water supply, sewerage, electricity and gas will be affected in the area and occupants are unlikely to be able to use these facilities”

The “Safe Escape Route” is indicated as being via Canvey Road to Waterside Roundabout and onto Canvey Way.

It has already been assessed, although not included within the Local Plan Evidence base, that an Evacuation of Canvey Island might take 19 hours.

The continued development in areas prone to flooding is an abuse, by developers and local authorities of the Flood RE insurance scheme.

Surely the continued intention of castle point council to increase the numbers of people at Risk of Flooding must be considered unacceptable.

rebecca_harris_mp_flood_free_homes

Echo newspapers coverage can be viewed via this LINK.

Flood RE and Safety Reports “There are none so blind as those who will not see!

The low turn out of Castle Point residents  during the Borough elections will be viewed as voter apathy towards local authority matters. This is probably acceptable where matters such as dog poo and bus shelters are concerned.

However where matters that potentially may impact upon the well being and harm to the community are concerned, this should be viewed as another matter entirely.

The “it will never happen to me”  attitude setting that has been encouraged where Flood Risk is concerned, came back to bite Canvey residents hard, as we well know in 2013 and 2014. For our Borough representatives and “professional” officers to claim that they thought flooding from the sea was the concern, they never thought it might come from a rain storm, illustrates the type of complacency they allowed themselves to operate under and make decisions by.

The Canvey Green Belt campaign have produced photographic evidence in support of our drainage concerns that have been dismissed by the local authority.

This ignorance and denial of flooding issues, from whichever source, gives CPBC the confidence to identify housing land that may be entirely unsuitable. Note it was chiefly Green Belt reasons that the planning committee focussed on in refusing the Holland Avenue planning application last week.

‘There are none so blind as those who will not see.                                                               

The most deluded people are those who choose to ignore what they already know’

Despite the Flood RE insurance exhibition being held on Canvey Island just 4 days prior to the planning meeting, and despite this Campaign group’s raising of the flood insurance issue whilst the Holland Avenue proposal was being discussed and our Blog posts on the subject, the committee preferred to spend no time discussing!

Whilst residents do not raise concerns, more should be expected of our representatives, not less. To deny a potential flood insurance issue for all new housing development on the grounds that flooding may never happen again on Canvey, in the knowledge that the “guestimated” £24,500,000 towards drainage infrastructure faults is not available, borders on the irresponsible. For development committee members to not even discuss the matter, is worse!

Build into the situation that the development committee also assume the role of the CPBC Hazardous Substance Authority, genuine concerns should be apparent.

The currents tv news programmes have shown coverage of the harrowing scenes evolving in Canada. The momentous forest fires have seen a coordinated evacuation and a massive effort by the fire services.

Compare that to the local response during the 2014 Canvey flooding. Telephone response lines not being answered due to the “service” being overwhelmed, the Environment Agency operatives unable to even get onto Canvey and the power outages rendering the pumps unable to cope with what water that was able to reach them!

Two years later and the CPBC Scrutiny Report into the flooding remains still to be published!

In the light of this omnishambles, complacency is the last position that should be adopted when we move onto suggest the local authority AND our representatives might wish to consider the issue of Safety Reports.

There is a requirement of all operators of Top Tier COMAH Hazardous Site Installations such as the Calor Gas LPG Storage Site, to provide a comprehensive Safety Report. Reports are summited to the Competent Authority for assessment against the Safety Report Assessment Manual. Once passed through examination the report is made available to Local Authorities, in this case Castle Point Borough Council

An important aspect of this risk based approach to mitigation is to recognise that it is based upon the likelihood of an incident and that should one occur the potential consequences will, in the worst case, extend beyond the land use planning zones in the down wind direction. Thus local authorities off site emergency plans need to be drawn up accordingly. Continued below;

Hazardous Installation Safety Reports are designed and expected to provide additional information than that identified by Consultation Distances and Public Information Zones

The Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 2015
Extract.
“251 The local authority cannot prepare an external emergency plan for an establishment without obtaining necessary information from the operator. This information will not normally be the entire safety report. The operator should provide that information which is relevant to preparing the external plan, including major accident scenarios and consequences. The operator must provide this information by the date on which the internal plan has to be prepared to comply with regulation 12(2) and should also ensure that any information supplied to the local authority is updated as necessary in the light of any changes.
252 Some establishments may be designated by the competent authority as being part of a ‘domino group’ – establishments where the likelihood or consequences of a major accident may be increased because of the location and proximity of other establishments and the dangerous substances present there. These establishments need special consideration in terms of emergency planning and the testing of the off-site response. The operators in the group must co-operate with each other in supplying any relevant information to the local authority.”

Those parts of the Calor Gas safety report that deal with “The Population at Risk” and the Impact on Population, demonstrate the extent and severity of a credible major accident scenarios which has been modelled to reveal that there is an extensive population likely to be affected. It would seem that this aspect has not been considered when planning application are being deliberated upon by the Castle Point Borough Council Planning Authority, even though they act as the Boroughs Hazardous Substance Authority.

The fundamental principle of the land use planning system is that decision making is the responsibility of the local planning authority, usually the local authority. The planning authority reaches decisions on applications for development in the vicinity of major hazard sites having taken account of relevant social, economic and safety factors and generally determined in accordance with the development plan. The Competent Authority provides the advice about suitability on grounds of safety and environmental impact and its role is as adviser under the requirements of the Seveso III Directive, not as decision maker. We believe the principle of decision making by the CPBC local planning authority should be supported by independent specialist advice in order that the authority’s Land Use Planning decisions can be considered to be, Sound!

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

Canvey Island Flood REassuring or Alarming? WE are to blame?

A recent social media posting on the Facebook “Canvey Island Then and Now” site by a resident, gave an interesting insight into the issues of acquiring property insurance in a Flood Risk area.

Floods 2014 pic via Police Helicopter

View of Canvey Island flooding from Police Helicopter July 2014

The harrowing post read:

“Just a little note to the people on here who like me were flooded and have ridiculous excesses.

I have now got a list of participating insurers in the Flood Re scheme, which will normalise your excess and bring premiums down to reasonable levels.

It has been a constant worry, not so much in the winter but in the summer, just waiting for the high humidity dense atmospheric conditions to align themselves over Canvey Island once again.

I went with Aviva and my premiums are £86 a month for both Buildings and Contents (but I did have add-ons) and the excesses are £250 and £100 respectively, which is a significant improvement from the excess of £10,000 imposed by Legal and General since July 2014!

Hopefully now my property can recover it’s value also and I will be able to sleep again!!!” 

We have no reason to doubt the figures given within the resident’s statement nor that the higher excess charges applied by the insurer were justified.

The Flood RE scheme must be greatly welcomed by most residents in areas  such as Canvey Island where, not only are we at Actual Risk from flooding from tidal sources, but as 2013 and 2014 proved, liable to surface water flooding through an inadequate and “complicated” drainage system.

Why should Insurers be expected to take sole responsibility for flood damage when WE, increase the numbers of dwellings at Flood Risk.

By WE, I refer to the organisation we chose to represent us – Castle Point Council.

Castle Point Council, even in the light of the S19 report from the Government Office for Science and the Multi Agency report into the flooding of Canvey Island during 2014, continue to urbanise, both residential and business development, the area.

WE (CPBC) also, evidently, fail to monitor the developers connections to the main drainage system.

Therefore, why should the Insurance Industry be held solely responsible, when WE Plan further large development that will continue potentially over loading the Island’s drainage system. Well, quite probably, the Insurance Industry will not!

The Flood RE scheme does not cover development later than dwellings built since 2009, neither, I believe, does it cover Business development!

This should be a major concern to not only future residents of the properties planned within the Castle Point Council Local Plan, whether it be the old daft New Local Plan or the new Local Plan2016, but also investors, speculators and financial institutions that provide loans and mortgages on Canvey.

Perhaps the CPBC Local Plan2016 should come printed with an exemption clause: Caveat emptorLet the Buyer Beware!

Canvey Green Belt fields, flooding Insurance and foolhardy development within the Local Plan

Ahead of the looming Castle Point Borough Council new Local Plan publication and it’s consideration for approval by Councillors the Canvey Green Belt Campaign would take this opportunity to suggest that caution should be an appropriate approach to development.

Recent years have seen extreme weather patterns worsening, this was predicted. The climate change sceptics continue to deny the connection between CC and the recent weather and tidal patterns.

Canvey West Fields

Canvey West Fields

However the Insurance industry take a different view. The Government suggest that an agreement between itself and the Insurance Industry has been arrived at, with the announcement of the planned introduction of Flood Re as protection against flooded property.
Lloyds Corporation have some reservations.
Flood Re is not expected to be introduced until 2015 and will have certain exclusions relevant to Local Planning.

There is expectation that caution will again be ignored locally within the CPBC Local Plan.

Further urbanisation of Canvey will cause problematic issues.
Already householders on Canvey Island are experiencing rejection or higher fees for home insurance due to Canvey being a Flood Risk Zone 3a area.

There are proposals that dwellings built since 2009 will be excluded from the protection offered by Flood Re thereby being denied Home Insurance, see below.

This will question the sustainability of large development on the Island and the soundness of a Local Plan with such proposals.
Whether CPBC feel that it is worth “testing” the Planning Inspectorates patience with such soundness testing of a Plan is for our Councillors to decide.

The CPBC Food Risk Assessment and the recent flooding events across the Borough have highlighted issues facing the area. In the case of surface water flooding committees have been assembled and paperwork has been drawn up.

This will not prevent flooding, only financial commitment will achieve this. Drains need surveying, alteration and regular maintenance. Unless money is allocated then more of the same can be expected into the future.
IMG_0313

It is obvious by observing the amount of surface water on the fields at west Canvey the value this area of flood plain plays. The major part of Canvey is heavily urbanised and suffers if the pumps are unable to handle flood water during heavy rain.

Unless housing development is on raised ground levels, causing issues for neighbouring residents, Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems will not function on Canvey Island.

Housing site selection will form a critical issue for the Inspector examining the Local Plan, and no doubt for the electors at the Borough elections.

Whilst we are not suggesting that no development be allocated to Canvey Island, the Inspector examaning the Core Strategy was clear in noting that only “some” development was required to sustain the town.

Indeed since the decision to withdraw the Core Strategy “some” development has continued on Canvey. A sensible and cautious sustainable approach.

The onus now falls upon our local Councillors.

Extract from the Lloyd’s Insurance Corporation statement on UK Flood Insurance:

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (“DEFRA”) and the Association of British Insurers (“ABI”) announced on 27 June 2013 that they had reached an agreement on the future of insurance for flood risk. A Memorandum of Understanding was published along with a DEFRA consultation paper setting out the proposals to establish Flood Re, an industry-run, not-for-profit reinsurance pool.
Flood Re is the insurance industry’s solution to ensuring that “domestic property insurance continues to be widely available and affordable in areas of flood risk without placing unsustainable costs on the policyholders or the taxpayer.”
The pool would operate to reinsure domestic properties in high flood risk areas. Such households are increasingly finding flood insurance unaffordable or unavailable following the shift towards risk-reflective pricing as more robust flood risk data becomes available to insurers.
Eligibility for reinsurance by the pool will be measured by assessing householders’ flood risk premium against new ‘eligibility thresholds’ based on council tax bands. Households whose flood premium exceeds these thresholds will be eligible for the pool and Flood Re will assume 100% of the flood risk in exchange for a premium equal to the relevant eligibility threshold. In the event of a flood claim the insurer would pay the claim directly to the insured and seek reimbursement from Flood Re. It is proposed to exclude some properties from the scheme, including those built since 2009, the highest value properties and “genuinely uninsurable properties”.
Lloyd’s submitted its response to the DEFRA consultation at the beginning of August 2013 in liaison with the Lloyd’s Market Association (LMA). Whilst Lloyd’s is generally in agreement with the proposals for establishing Flood Re, it has some concerns around the proposals for managing Flood Re’s own exposure to large losses. In particular, Lloyd’s believes that further work is needed to consider what happens if the cap of a 1:200 aggregate loss is reached, as those insurers reinsured by Flood Re will still be legally liable to meet policyholder’s flood claims. Lloyd’s does not support imposition of the Flood Insurance Obligation.