Tag Archives: Insurance

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?


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!


“Flooding should be a priority – we must ensure that money is not wasted through poor development and lack of maintenance”

Paul Cobbing has Guest Blogged for the Association of British Insurers.

His opening paragraph could not have had more relevance to Canvey Island, than if he had posted specifically with Canvey in mind.

The Castle Point Council Scrutiny committee looking into the causes and issues following the surface water flooding during the summers of 2013 and 2014 are still to release their Report. The committee members will have local knowledge and will be expected to highlight the issues that have been allowed to undermine the Island’s drainage system.


Flooding to the scale endured by Canvey Island residents brought a realisation of how alone people become when dealing with the effects and after effects of such events. Strong words and promises that “lessons will be learned,” (again), along with funding to mitigate against future occurances.

Much is being organised to clear drainage channels and to inspect for intrusions into the drainage network but the thought that things will return to how they were, ahead of the flooding, is always the likely scenario.

Drainage maintenance was not conducted thoroughly prior to the recent funding cuts. Money has only been allocated for a thorough cleansing, we have only the Highways official’s word that the maintenance levels will not drop back to previous inadequate levels.

Human nature is that following a spell of reasonable weather in which the drainage system copes, gives a false sense of confidence that will again lead to neglect. The Canvey Flood website indicates that Anglian Water are currently continuing the CCTV sewer network surveys. Whilst Essex Highways have not updated information since mid December, one is left wondering whether the gulley cleansing programme has been completed (not in my area) or whether it i s simply a failure in keeping the residents informed.

Canvey residents are familiar with hearing messages explaining the confidence we should have in our pumping system and sea defences, unfortunately the ability of  a drainage system is only properly tested during an actual heavy sustained downpour or during a storm event.

No word of who is to be appointed the sole person responsible to command and control the prevention and response to flooding in Essex as recommended by the Government Office for Science’s  Sir Mark Walpole.

Sir Mark Walpole

Sir Mark Walpole

This would be the most important step in safeguarding homes and residents on Canvey Island for the future.

Canvey residents eagerly await the CPBC Scrutiny Report.

Paul Cobbing posted:

Flood water can drag the heart out of communities.  Once the water, the politicians and the cameras are gone, people have a long hard grind to get their lives back to normal and the trauma can live with people for the rest of their lives. This is why we must get better at managing flood risk to protect our communities. Flooding should be a priority for all of national and local government, both to fund and maintain defences, but also to ensure that this money is not wasted through poor development, lack of maintenance of gullies, culverts and bridges, and inadequate riparian management.

We still have a very long way to go.

Managing flood risk using the full range of tools from catchment management to flood defences, and reducing the impact on individual homes is essential to protect people against the effects on flooding. Though, as the recent report on Defra performancefrom the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee highlighted, the low level of funding for flood risk management, particularly maintenance, is concerning  for the millions of homes at risk of flooding. A much longer-term, more coherent, better co-ordinated approach is desperately needed in this country, that includes all of the factors that affect flood risk.

This is why the National Flood Forum is supporting the Flood Free Homes campaign, for a sensible long term approach to land and water management. We must act now, as climate change and factors such as development and higher population density mean that the problem is getting worse. We need sustained and co-ordinated investment in building and maintaining flood defences, a sensible approach to building new sustainable housing and long-term thinking about flood prevention that does not get caught up in the politics.

We must act now, as climate change and factors such as development and higher population density mean that the problem is getting worse.

Flooding throughout the world is becoming more extreme as a result of changing weather patterns and increasing populations.  Here in the UK we’ve had more severe floods in the last ten years than in the generation before.  Flooding can hit anywhere now – not just near the major rivers.

The devastating nationwide floods in 2007 created the biggest peacetime civil emergency since the Second World War. According to the Pitt Review, 55,000 properties were flooded, with 7,000 people needing to be rescued from flood waters and 13 people died. Recently, the annual cost of flood damage has been £1.1 billion and is set to rise.

At the National Flood Forum, we work with communities at risk of flooding to offer advice and support them when preparing for flooding and starting the recovery process if the worst has happened. We see first-hand how communities can be devastated by flood water and how challenging the recovery can be. We hope in the future that this country will be more resilient and protected against floods, so that fewer of our communities experience this first hand.

Paul Cobbing is Chief Executive of the National Flood Forum.


Talks continue re Household flood insurance

According to the Guardian, Richard Benyon the Minister for Natural Environment and Fisheries, said whilst referring to the agreement between Gov. and Insurance Industry, at a Conference on flooding 7th March “Renewing [the agreement] would not solve the problem,”

“The current agreement does not apply to the majority of households at significant flood risk, nor does it apply to homes built since January 2009. It provides no universal guarantee of flood cover, as many claim it does. Nor does the agreement influence the pricing of policies.”

Tehe agreement is crucial to homes that have previously been flooded as it means householders can continue to receive cover.

Benyon went on to say “The review has shown that property-level protection is cost-effective and the study has underlined the practical help and emotional reassurance that this form of protection gives to people who are at risk of flooding.” Going on to say that Householders should instead be encouraged to invest in their own flood defences, including the installation of air brick covers, non-return valves and seals for cat flaps.

The Pitt review into the Summer Floods 2007 recommendations 69 and 70 refer to the requirement for Authorities to encourage the awareness of the benefits of pre-planning  for flood situations.

Locally, should the Agreement not be re-newed, it will be interesting to see the effect on new development on Canvey Island being in Flood Zone 3. Will sales be affected if Insurance should not be available, will mortgages be available?