Tag Archives: Parliament

Canvey Island Air Quality, Road Infrastructure, Never a Constraint on Development! Why even ask our Environmental Health Officer?

In the light of UK Air Quality concerns following brexit from the EU, it is “interesting” to note how Canvey Island is considered by Castle Point council on the same issues.

Canvey will see much Business / Industrial development, alongside housing, during the next few years. Flooding and Green Space issues are given scant regard at the Planning decision-making stage.

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Land opposite Morrisons

Alongside this we can confirm, that Air Quality issues are also being covered up. In typical cpbc fashion, rather than receive an objection to a Planning Proposal, cpbc prefer now to not ask Air Quality questions!

On consulting our Environmental Health department of any concerns over the new Business Park at Land Opposite Morrisons Northwich Northwick Road, Canvey Island, an Objection to the proposal was sent to the cpbc Planning Department.

Obviously cpbc did not want this response so now, prefer not to seek further advice or opinion over Air Quality, where new planning proposals are concerned! Consequently the Land opposite Morrisons proposal was Approved, whilst Air Quality remained Unaddressed! Because its on Canvey?

The cpbc Environmental Health officer commented on the 28th January 2016;

I have had the opportunity to view the above planning application and would like to make the following comment.

This Service currently objects to this application on the grounds of ‘increase of traffic’, and the effects which this would have upon air quality, a topic which is of Public Health significance.

One of our diffusion tubes (CP02 – approximately 500m from the proposed development), deployed for the purpose of measuring ambient nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations, has consecutively recorded higher than average levels of the pollutant, a pollutant which is produced as a result of road traffic and other fossil fuel combustion processes.

The degradation of the air quality in this area has arisen as a result of elevated levels of congestion and has been of increasing concern to this Service. If this pollutant should exceed an annual mean of 40μg/m3, as set by the European directives, this Council shall be required to submit a detailed assessment to the department for environment food and rural affairs (DEFRA). If it is identified that the directives are not being complied with, this Council may be required to implement an air quality management area (AQMA).

It is the opinion of this Service that if the proposed development was permitted at the current time there would be an adverse impact upon the local air quality, with initial impacts during the construction phase. It is believed that the air quality would deteriorate further following occupation by new businesses, regular delivery vehicles and visitors to the site.

This Service agrees with the design and access statement that this particular area is well connected for business, boasting “direct usage of the A130, which heads north to the A13 and west towards the M25 and London”, however the current road infrastructure, particularly those leading onto and off of the island cannot facilitate traffic movements which would not have a detrimental impact on the local air quality.

This Service would like to state that it is supportive of sensible and sustainable development and advocates business within its borough, however this cannot be at the cost to health of its residents.

Concerns raised in Parliament and across the UK on Air Quality following our parting with the EU will have little consequence to those decision makers at Castle Point council.

There decisions will though impact upon the Health of Canvey Islanders!

MP’s warn of UK “Poisonous Air” Emergency

MPs have demanded an end to the UK’s “poisonous air” in an unprecedented report from four Commons committees.
The Environment, Health, Transport and Environmental Audit committees want a new Clean Air Act, and a clean air fund financed by the motor industry.
They are also demanding a faster phase-out of petrol and diesel cars – currently set for 2040.
The government said air pollution had improved significantly since 2010 but there was “more to do”.
MPs have been frustrated by the response from ministers, who have promised to publish a comprehensive clean air strategy later this year.
Their report says: “Air pollution is a national health emergency resulting in an estimated 40,000 early deaths each year, costing the UK £20bn annually.
“It is unacceptable that successive governments have failed to protect the public from poisonous air.
UK air pollutants continue decline
Government loses clean air court case
Reality Check: Are diesel cars always the most harmful?
“Despite a series of court cases, the government has still not produced a plan that adequately addresses the scale of the challenge. Nor has it demonstrated the national leadership needed.”
The report – the first time that four committees are thought to have collaborated – urges the Treasury to take greater account of the costs of air pollution when setting tax and spend policy, after tax changes by the former Chancellor George Osborne left a Porsche driver paying the same tax as the owner of a low-pollution Prius.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders told BBC News that a clear air fund worth £220m had already been set up by government, paid for by changes to vehicle taxation.
“In addition, vehicle manufacturers are funding scrappage schemes to get the older vehicles off the road,” Mike Hawes said. “Other sectors must also play their part in improving air quality.”
The government has called for evidence on pollution from other sources such as wood stoves, coal fires and smokeless fuel. It is also looking at the use of cheap agricultural red diesel in food delivery vans.
‘Mis-sold’
But Greenpeace said the car industry could not continue to be allowed to “shake off its responsibility” for the pollution crisis the UK was facing.
“The public was missold highly polluting diesel cars by manufacturers who knew road emissions were many times higher than in the lab,” said its senior political adviser Rosie Rogers.
“It’s high time manufacturers felt the heat, and contributing to a clean air fund is a good start.”
Consumer products ‘affecting air quality’
London’s January air ‘best in 10 years’
Scrutiny over wood and coal fires
The government’s long-term target of abolishing cars driven only by petrol and diesel by 2040 is regarded by environment groups as a red herring. They point out that India has made the same pledge – but for 2030.
It is most unlikely, they say, that manufacturers will still be making UK cars deemed unfit to drive on India’s roads after 2030.
The chair of the Environment select committee, Neil Parish, told the BBC government should work with councils to tackle pollution hotspots where Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) levels are breached, some of which are very small.

By Roger Harrabin
BBC environment analyst

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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 Flood Risks – brought to Parliament!

“Planning conditions can be flouted, and they are sometimes not properly enforced.”

Parliament debated “FUTURE FLOOD PREVENTION” and further resources totalling £582,310,000 in the House of Commons on the 27th February.

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EnvAgencyAnglia photo

Photograph courtesy; Environment Agency Anglia; Canvey Island February 2017

Neil Parish opened the debate and mentioned, “One problem is that, if we are not careful, people living in an area with a “one in 100 years” risk which is flooded are inclined to think that they will be safe from floods for another 99 years. Of course, that is not the case. An area with a high flood risk will continue to have that risk until better defences are created or resilience measures are introduced, and it will probably always be a pretty high-risk area.”

His reference to “1 in 100 years risk”, and peoples understanding of it, indicates how slowly changes are put in place. This was one of the recommendations following the Report and Review into the Canvey Island Flooding of 2014, that a more straight forward and easier description of flood risk was brought into use!

“The report states that firefighters provide a vital “first-line service” to flooded areas”

Strange then that they were discontinued as statutory consultees in the planning process locally, after continually stating they were only able to guarantee a response during a life or death situation due to a lack of resources. It is hard to imagine, following the fire and rescue service cut backs of late, that they are better placed now to become a fully effective “first-line service”!

Castle Point MP Rebecca Harris participated in the debate. However some of what she said appeared to expand the theory, long spun amongst residents, that our defences are impenetrable. Our sea defences do not compare with the Netherlands and are indeed liable to over-topping in parts under certain conditions (cpbc SFRA 2010).

Although Canvey Island is defended to a high standard of protection, it is at risk should there be a flood defence failure. This residual flood risk should be considered, as although the likelihood of it (flood defence failure) occurring is low, the consequences should it happen would be very high.

Referring to the evacuation of Jaywick, whilst Canvey Island residents were considered safe, suggests that an evacuation of Canvey Island was possible. The potential time required, upto 19+ hours, would make this unlikely, and in the event of a Breach, impossible.

One thing that requires clarity is, given the extraordinary amount of work already carried out across Canvey Island, whether the request to Government for £24,500,000 required to repair our broken drainage system still stands. All appears to have become silent following cpbc representatives being told to return with specific details of work necessary and estimates of costings to evidence the sums requested.

Nevertheless to have our MP stand in Parliament to put forward the issues of the Flood Risks to Canvey Island, and the level of work needed to simply maintain the drainage system, can be no bad thing.

Rebecca Harris, Castle Point

“The financing of flood defences is of absolutely paramount importance to my constituents, as my borough has been hit by flooding on a number of occasions, most notoriously the devastating North sea flood of 1953, which breached the old Canvey Island sea wall defences and caused the loss of life of 58 residents and the evacuation of the entire remaining population. To avert a similar catastrophe, the island is now protected by a concrete wall that runs along its entire 28 km to protect the population of 40,000 from tidal surges. This wall is still judged to be good for a one-in-1,000-years event. I note that the residents of Canvey Island were not encouraged to evacuate because of a threatened tidal surge when those of Jaywick were. The wall is judged to be sound right up until the end of this century provided that there is regular monitoring and maintenance. The concern of my residents is to ensure that the money is always there to make sure that we are upgrading the maintenance.

Notwithstanding how good the sea walls are, Canvey Island and other parts of my borough, including South Benfleet and Hadleigh, still remain subject to a serious risk of surface water flooding, as occurred dramatically in the summer of 2013 and again in 2014, when homes right across the borough were flooded, including 1,000 homes on the island alone. Despite the great sea defences, this is a serious problem for an island that remains 1 metre below sea level at high tide and is entirely flat. It presents a particular problem for effective surface water drainage. There was an absolute outcry in 2014 at the second significant flooding event in less than 11 months. That led to calls for an investigation into whether this could be dismissed as a mere act of God or whether much more serious defects in the water management system were at fault, and what measures were needed to be put in place to assure residents that it would not occur again. I was extremely grateful to the then Cabinet Office Ministers and Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, who agreed to an investigation by the Government chief scientist, Sir Mark Walport, to establish the facts and make recommendations for the various agencies locally. His report found that the coincidence of extreme rainfall, problems with the performance of the drainage system, a power cut, and pumps overheating and tripping out were all foreseeable, although unusual, and many could be avoided in future. Sir Mark made a number of recommendations, the majority of which, I am pleased to say, have already been acted on.

Since those last floods, an extraordinary amount of work has taken place right across Castle Point, with considerable amounts of money spent on improvements and mitigation measures. The Environment Agency has invested large sums in improvements to its eight sluices and 13 pumping stations. In this financial year alone, it has invested over £500,000, including £89,000 on the Benfleet and East Haven barriers, which are key to protecting South Benfleet as well as the island. Webcams have been installed to monitor pumps and ditches. Some £620,000 has been spent on refurbishing 28 floodgates, and the remaining six will be completed by the end of this year.

The county council and Anglian Water have worked hard to map the drainage network underground and to make thousands of repairs and remove blockages in the system, as well as identifying the most serious faults. Anglian Water has invested millions since 2014 and has also been highly proactive in a public awareness campaign locally to raise the critical importance of maintaining free-flowing water courses. The county council is undertaking a huge rolling programme of property-level protection, with grants of up to £5,000 for homes affected by flooding previously.

The improved partnership working of Essex County Council, Anglian Water, the Environment Agency and the Essex fire and rescue service, as recommended by the chief scientist, is exemplary and has even resulted in a national award. Although the investigation focused on the island, improvements in multi-agency co-operation have had real benefits for the entire borough and it is now an exemplar for the rest of the UK.

The partnership has concluded a comprehensive urban drainage study of the problems underground and to model any future problems, to help make sure that this does not happen to my borough again. Proposals include the creation of additional storage ditches on roadsides and open areas, green roofs, water butts, porous paving and increased pipe sizes. It will shortly submit bids for some of those projects to the South East local enterprise partnership and central Government.

Previously, DEFRA Ministers have supported our bids. I hope that the Government will continue that support, acknowledge the economic importance of those bids and stress, not only to my LEP but to others, the importance of flood alleviation schemes in ensuring that communities remain economically viable. It is absolutely essential for the continued economic regeneration of my borough that it is recognised as protected from non-tidal surface water, as well as from tidal flood risk, especially given the increased likelihood of future events.

My borough is grateful for the introduction of the Flood Re scheme, which means that residents are not priced out of insuring their homes. It is not, however, available to businesses in my area. I hope that more work can be done in that regard, because a lot of them suffer great hardship. Nor does the scheme apply to new builds. I urge the Government to do more to ensure that there is better defence of our floodplains from developers and to press planning departments to incorporate more surface water mitigation for developments. Perhaps they could even reverse developers’ current right to connect surface water to the sewerage system, as it does not incentivise them to consider sustainable drainage systems.

I am conscious that time is short, so I will end by encouraging the Minister to visit Castle Point, if she can find the time in her diary, to see the incredible work that has been done in Benfleet and on Canvey Island, and to meet local agencies to discuss what more is needed and how we can further help the borough.”

Hansard’s record of the full debate can be reached HERE.