Tag Archives: surface water flooding

Hypocrisy, the Use of Substitutes, a Deciding Vote and a Divided Borough? Sequentially Unsound!

It appeared that what can only be described as a level of Hypocrisy was displayed by certain Castle Point Development Committee members towards a view suggested by the opposition group at the 5th September’s meeting!

The suggestion appeared that Canvey was, put simplistically, being targeted for development so as to protect the mainland areas. It was expressed that Canvey should not be portrayed as an individual area, rather than an equal part of the whole Borough of Castle Point.

However the whole basis of the Flood Risk Sequential Test, as interpreted by Castle Point Council, is to treat Canvey Island in isolation!

“it is considered that continued development is necessary in order that the settlement of Canvey can continue to thrive economically and socially.”

” Canvey needs continued development if it is to continue to thrive economically. A lack of housebuilding on the island could mean that the island stagnates in economic terms which is likely to affect opportunities for employment. “

Indeed the Thorney Bay proposal for 600+ dwellings  was subject to a CPBC Planning Policy statement stating that “the site was identified as having the potential to contribute towards the 5 Year Housing Supply (of the Borough)”!

Regardless of the application being considered, whether for a single unit or a proposal for over 600 dwellings on Canvey Island, it is fairly clear that using this interpretation of the Sequential Test to support development proposals, there is no likelihood of any planning proposal Failing the Test!

It is a convenient and flimsy argument to accuse Islanders of focussing on cpbc’s apparent approach to Canvey development, whilst the Sequential Test is used to do precisely that!

It should be of concern, that since Canvey land was designated for the use of Housing in the 1998 Local Plan, and that since the Sequential Test approach towards its application on Canvey development proposals was adopted by CPBC in 2007, these events have occurred and these Reports have been published;

  • The Pitt Review-Learning Lessons from the 2007 floods. (Published 2008) !!!
  • The CPBC Strategic Flood Risk Assessment published in 2010. (In itself due an Update.)
  • Surface Water Flooding has occurred on Canvey Island during 2013.
  • Surface Water Flooding has occurred on Canvey Island during 2014.
  • Government Office for Science – Canvey Island Section 19 Report
  • The requested Drainage Improvement / Upgrade funding has not materialised.
  • We learned that the land on Canvey Island has a High Water Table, subject to influence by the Tidal Water encroaching Under the Sea Defences. (Land East of Canvey Road document).
  • The Integrated Urban Drainage Study was published, which challenged the credibility of the CPBC Surface Water Management Plan published 2012.

Quite clearly the Castle Point Council approach to the application of the Sequential Test on Canvey Island in isolation, is Obsolete and Unjustified!

Attenuation Tanks were discussed as a means of a suitable drainage system. Had the committee not considered that Canvey has a High Water Table, now known to be subject to Tidal influence? In this case the Tank would be sunk into the application site property, how efficient would this system of drainage be?

Photo Police helicopter 2014

The focus of the drainage system needs to be to prevent off-site flooding of neighbouring property and land. Without going through the exercise of producing a Practical Model on Canvey island and monitoring over an extended period councillors should not be in a position to simply go by unsubstantiated opinion in their decision making!

Whilst the protection of Green Belt, which is admirable, is at the forefront of councillors minds, it must be borne in mind that Paragraph 14 of the national Planning Policy Framework contains Footnote 9, which indicates;

specific policies in this Framework indicate development should be restricted.9

those policies relating to sites protected under the Birds and Habitats Directives (see paragraph 119) and/or designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest; land designated as Green Belt, Local Green Space, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Heritage Coast or within a National Park (or the Broads Authority); designated heritage assets; and locations at risk of flooding or coastal erosion.

Whilst this specifically relates to Plan making, it is clear that, if the concern is present amongst decision makers development in a Flood Zone and in a Critical Drainage Area, in which Canvey Island falls into both categories, caution should be the operative position to adopt.

Residents suffering the Canvey Island Flooding of 2013 and 2014 may well feel appalled at the rigid Rejection of development applications on Green Belt, whilst a less than cautious approach appears to be adopted where Flood Risk is concerned, by certain cpbc development committee members.

The cpbc officer appeared unaware that the whole of Canvey Island is a Critical Drainage Area.

The questionable use of Substitute councillors to replace two absentees at the meeting, bearing in mind the technical issues highlighted in this planning proposal, proved to be decisive, as 1 voted to Approve and 1 voted to Abstain.

With the votes recorded as 5 to Approve and 5 Against, with 2 Abstentions, the Chairman chose to use his Casting Vote, and consequently rather than holding further deliberations on the subjects contained within this post and others not mentioned, the Application was Approved!

Advertisements

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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

The chances of Canvey Island Flooding during the next 1 in 316 year event, may not be in 316 years time!

Of late on Canvey Island social media websites, it has been noted how some contributors have expressed their view that the island faces a flooding threat from Rainfall, rather than from a Tidal breach or over-topping.

Indeed some have even gone as far as stating that it is Scare-mongering to even suggest the possibility that a threat from Tidal flooding even exists. For this post we will ignore Tidal flooding, leaving those wishing to keep their heads in the sand, and concentrate on Surface Water Flooding.

Following the 2014 Summer Flooding on Canvey Island and the ensuing Flood Investigation Reports, it was recommended that the terminology to indicate the threat of flooding should be altered. That is the existing 1 in 30 year, 1 in 100 year etc possibility of flooding, should be updated so that a more appropriate, more readily understood explanation of the possibility of a flood event is available.

Three years on and it appears that little has changed. This leaves homeowners and businesses oblivious to potential dangers and consequently ill-prepared.

This also leads local authorities into money saving complacency, and having to be reminded of their maintenance responsibilities.

Drain 4.04.17

There are concerns that monies from central government is granted but not strictly allocated to maintenance intended, councils preferring to place grants into central funds.

Some scepticism eludes from the ECC Flood Investigation where maintenance funds were apparently used, and yet the work carried out had little effect on preventing flooding in the following months.

Extracts from the ECC Investigation into the Canvey Island 2014 reveals;

In the period of time between 13:40 and 18:00 one million cubic metres of water fell on the island, which equates to almost the full capacity of Wembley Stadium.

This event was unprecedented,                                                                                                                       and the return period for this rainfall event is estimated at 1 in 316 years or 0.3% chance of it occurring in any given year.

Rainfall on the island may flow a substantial distance before reaching the pumps, through infrastructure owned or managed by a large number of different organisations and individuals and in some cases without a clear understanding of ownership. Any constriction on flow either due to blockage or insufficient capacity for the rainfall event can affect the effective operation of the entire drainage system.

As a result of the relatively densely populated urban areas and large areas of impermeable surfaces the island is especially susceptible to intense rainfall events which result in flash flooding. In combination with the flat topography of the island this means that Canvey is particularly dependent on the designed drainage infrastructure to mitigate flood risk.

Following the longest sustained period of wet weather on record over the winter months, Essex County Council released an additional £1m of emergency revenue funding to deal with highway related flooding.

In mid-February 2014 Castle Point Borough Council put forward its Top 5 flooding sites to Essex County Council, 4 of which were on Canvey Island:

Canvey Seafront area, Lottem Road area, North Avenue area, Town Centre area.

Extensive cleansing, CCTV surveys and jetting of the highways assets was undertaken at all of these locations and where necessary repair works were programmed.  

Arising from these works in the Canvey Seafront Area a larger Surface Water Alleviation Scheme (SWAS) has been identified and put forward for funding (circa £100,000). 

Generally, the drainage system at this location is very flat and prone to heavy silting.

Gullies, catch pits and associated pipework on Canvey Island are cleansed annually as part of the cyclical annual gulley cleanse.                                                                                                                      

There are a total of 5,767 highway and footway gullies in Canvey. 

In 2013/14 5,672 gullies were attended and of these 5,298 (91.8%) were cleansed.

On a personal level, my area of Canvey is amongst the unfortunate 8.2%.

However, returning to the issue of updating the terminology to indicate the threat of flooding should be altered. That is the existing 1 in 30 year, 1 in 100 year etc possibility of flooding, should be updated so that a more appropriate, more readily understood explanation of the possibility of a flood event.

It has been 3 years since the 2014 Canvey Island summer flooding and it appears no new system of flood possibility measurement has emerged.

Meanwhile following the flooding in Houston USA, the FiveThirtyEight blog reveals similar concerns regarding Flood Risk measurement terminology is a talking point across the Atlantic.

The FiveThirtyEight Blog post can be read HERE.

 

 

Essex County Council Community Resilience Plans + Persons at Risk Register = Canvey Island, Do it Yourself!

Essex County Council website appear keen that residents and Parish councils should compile their own Community Resilience Plans.

Following the example of the failure of Essex County Council, Castle Point Council and the Environment Agency to respond adequately during the 2014 summer Flooding on Canvey Island, perhaps ECC have a point!

However as a group, we have long suggested that a local Persons at Risk Register should be compiled.

The logistics of forming such a Register is, no doubt, a daunting prospect, however  opportunities are available, either during the 10 year Census or the annual mailing of the Council Tax demands, when an extra questionnaire could be distributed.

Responses could be compiled to give an idea of the numbers and locations of those people less able and most in need of assistance during an Emergency on Canvey.

With the high number of population residing on Canvey Island, and the possibility of an Emergency situation arising from either the 2 Hazardous Industrial sites, Surface Water Flooding or Tidal Flooding, any Persons at Risk Register would prove to be an asset in the right hands!

Essex County Council suggest that this is not about doing the job of the Emergency Services or Local Authorities, nor should it be, given the Local Authorities abject failure during 2014!

However this level of buck passing onto local communities misses a couple of points. Local Authorities and associated agencies are either paid for, or elected by, the same local communities. Individual actions should not take the place of the joint action force that is expected to be better prepared and be better able to carry out a planned and practiced for emergency operation to protect residents.

It may be viewed by some that, should such local community information data base be collated by resident groups, the personal information required could breach confidentiality limits.

So on the one hand we have Local Authority agency partners who have still Lessons to be Learned and failing us, and on the other hand an ageing population.

Whilst looking out for the frail, elderly and less able in our neighbourhoods should be a natural course to undertake,  something on the scale suggested should be organised on a far larger scale by an authority with better resources.

Still at least Canvey has one of the closer communities compared with some parts of the Country, a First Responders group and a Town Council, which should mean that once this initiative is exposed as simply a compliance paper exercise by ECC to fulfil their obligations, should anything untoward occur, given the three potential sources of Emergency on the Island, help may be at hand!

Essex County Council have posted on their website;

Why should my community have an Emergency Plan? 

Emergencies are rare, but they can happen.  In the last few years, Essex has experienced severe winter weather, flooding, travel disruption, fuel shortages and a flu outbreak.  Challenges like these can affect our daily lives.

The good news is that communities can prepare themselves for emergencies and it can make a big difference to how people can cope.  When we talk about communities, it can be any group of people, a parish or ward, area or any other group of people.

More resilient communities:

  • Are aware of the risks that may affect them and how vulnerable they are to those risks
  • Use their existing skills, knowledge and resources to prepare for, and deal with, the consequences of an emergency
  • Understand who are the most vulnerable people within their community, who may need extra assistance
  • Can work together to complement the work of the emergency services and Local Authorities before, during and after an emergency

This isn’t about doing the job of the emergency services and Local Authorities.  It’s about supporting your community, and those in it, by making sensible preparations and using the skills and knowledge that the community has.

Castle Point Borough Council’s Emergency Advice can be found HERE.

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.

May Avenue, Canvey Island – Flooding Lessons Never Learned by CPBC- or were they never meant to be?

The controversial proposal to develop on a narrow green space in May Avenue, Canvey Island, returned for cpbc development Control committee consideration.

The previous application had been Rejected and on Appeal was upheld by the Planning Inspector.

The problem with cpbc being taken to Appeal over development is the crazy system of officers demanding Reasons for a development’s Rejection immediately the vote has been taken. There should be a process whereby the officers Report including Reasons for Objection is given further consideration before the officers are allowed to sign off their reports.

It is these Reports that stand as the Borough’s case during a written Appeal considered by the Planning Inspectorate and they appear to be practically made up on the hoof!

This time around some members voiced continued concerns, whilst the officer warned against the consequences of again Rejecting the proposal.

In the end a Motion to Defer the decision was Agreed.

One of the main issues MUST be that of the principle of Flood Risk.

No Objection from the Environment Agency, and the Developer indicated that the famed Canvey Integrated Urban Drainage study showed flooding, similar to that of the summer of 2014 would leave the proposed development dry.

Shame the same thing cannot be guaranteed for the Neighbouring Existing May Avenue Properties!

There is an agreed guidance between the Environment Agency and castle point council for small development sites.

Part of this guidance states;

“The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and its supporting Technical Guidance Document set out the Government’s national policy on development in areas at risk of flooding. It seeks, wherever possible, to avoid inappropriate development in areas at risk of flooding. Where it can be demonstrated that development is required in these areas, the NPPF seeks to ensure it will be safe over the lifetime of the development and will not increase flood risk elsewhere and where possible, reduce flood risk”

Developing what is a narrow greensward area between two properties can only add to the pressures on the Canvey Island drainage system.

Replacing a greensward with a bricks and mortar dwelling and driveway will likely increase the Flood Risk to Neighbouring properties, against NPPF requirement.

The cpbc planning officer was dismissive of these concerns stating that the local authority’s position regarding Sequential Testing (where development should take place in less Flood Liable Zones) falls within the usual mantra;

“With regard to the sequential test, the proposal seeks to provide dwellings on Canvey Island. For residential development to serve the community of Canvey Island it is considered that it would need to be located within, or immediately adjacent to, that settlement.
Since the settlement of Canvey Island is located entirely within Flood Zone 3 it is not considered that there are reasonably available alternative sites within the area with a lower probability of flooding that could accommodate the proposed development. Under the circumstances it is considered that the proposal passes the sequential test.”

This is ambiguous! The first paragraph implies that the community of Canvey Island should remain where it is, no migration allowed! Castle Point is one of the smallest Boroughs in England however, no similar concerns are applied to Benfleet, Hadleigh nor Thundersley.

These mainland towns have populations that are barely increasing, and yet they face no similar Flood Risks.

The cpbc New Local Plan Sequential Test for Housing Site Options states;

In order to deliver 200 homes per annum for the period 2011 to 2031 (4,000 homes in total), it is necessary to identify developable sites with a further capacity to accommodate 2,400 homes. Approximately, 500 of these homes will be secured at Thorney Bay Caravan Park, and 99 at the 101 Point Road, Canvey Island. It is expected that redevelopment within the existing residential areas of the borough will secure approximately 380 additional homes in this period also. Therefore, the sequential test will be seeking to identify developable sites with a capacity of 1,421 homes.

Quite clearly, development on Canvey Island is in support of the Borough’s Housing Needs! Therefore this isolationist application of the Sequential Test by castle point council, to Canvey Island alone, has No Justification!

It should be remembered that the National Planning Policy Framework gives Equal Protection to Green Belt land and Land at risk of Flooding;

specific policies in this Framework indicate development should be restricted.9

9 For example, those policies relating to sites protected under the Birds and Habitats Directives (see paragraph 119) and/or designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest; land designated as Green Belt, Local Green Space, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Heritage Coast or within a National Park (or the Broads Authority); designated heritage assets; and locations at risk of flooding or coastal erosion.”

Committee members concerns whether surface water flooding could be prevented by Attenuation Tanks were wide of the mark. Canvey Island has a notoriously High Water Table, create space for a tank below ground simply pushes flood waters higher and wider!

See if these extracts ring any bells, you should all, Canvey Islanders anyway, recognise where these words come from and relate to;

“pumps are the final element of a long, incredibly complex and interlinked surface water drainage system comprising of drains, culverts, sewers, open watercourses, main rivers, pumps and storage areas all with varying capacity, which need to be operating efficiently in order to drain the island. Rainfall on the island may flow a substantial distance before reaching the pumps, through infrastructure owned or managed by a large number of different organisations and individuals and in some cases without a clear understanding of ownership. Any constriction on flow either due to blockage or insufficient capacity for the rainfall event can affect the effective operation of the entire drainage system”

“The pressure on the drainage system on Canvey Island has intensified over the last 50 years due to further development, and it is evident that in some locations some drainage infrastructure is no longer at the necessary capacity to provide sufficient drainage”

” Given the unique nature of the drainage system and the scale of investment needed, to achieve significant results in Canvey Island will require that special support be provided by DEFRA. With this understanding, multiagency cooperation and additional Central Government funding it may be possible to make necessary and feasible improvements to the drainage system and effectively reduce flood risk in some areas.

The population of Canvey Island consisted of 38,459 people back in 2011, and yet cpbc position is that unless the population continues to grow, the Island will become unsustainable.

What utter Tosh!

There are 38,500 people at Risk of Flooding, local agencies have proven they cannot cope should we suffer from Surface Water Flooding, and yet the Local Plan proposal is to put more and more people at Risk!

If that is not what unsustainable development means then I don’t know what does!

The Sequential Test, as adopted by CPBC, is out of date!

The Strategic Flood Risk Assessment is out of date!

The agreement between the Environment Agency allowing Castle Point Council to decide (take responsibility for) the safety of new development over its Lifetime is out of date!

That Canvey is a “Special Case” where development is concerned, is out of date!

The £24,500,000 required to mend the Canvey Island “Broken” Drainage System has never materialised!

The Canvey Green Belt Campaign group maintain the position that the Island’s population should be maintained at the current levels or lower. All planned development on Canvey should be the subject of the Local Plan alone!

The infrastructure cannot cope with more, whilst the Island’s economy is reasonable given the UK’s circumstances. Whilst the Town Centre may be showing some signs of struggling in the more expensive locations, this is not helped by out of town commercial development in the pipeline.

Lessons clearly are not being learned despite assurances from senior officers!

Time to brief our MP? Canvey Island at the forefront of Flooding Issues, whilst CPBC covers up?

The National Flood Forum tweeted

“A great opportunity to get communities’ flooding issues debated. Time to brief your MP and ask them to participate.”

This was the Forum’s reaction to an announcement by The House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee:-

We’ve secured a debate in the Chamber on 27 Feb, pending the House’s agreement tonight, with on our flooding Reports

Regarding the now regular Flooding Events that occur in the UK, much has been spoken, reported and recorded. Monies have been promised and Budgets have been set.

Nothing matches the Flooding Prevention approach and outlay committed in the Netherlands.

However locally in Castle Point, the situation appears worse still.

img_0802

There exists what may be a false sense of security concerning the perceived infallibility of the Sea Defences. The seeds of apathy have manifested from residents being comforted by the Defences being the very “best in the Country”!

The Environment Agency’s view regarding the Canvey Sea Defences is;

” 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 occurring is low, the consequences should it happen would be very high.”

Climate Change and Rising Sea Levels mean that the Sea Defences will require improvements to the current standards before the year 2100.

In February 2015 a Commons Select Committee conceded;

“The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee queries Government plans to attract £600 million from external funders to bolster flood defences. In its report on Defra Performance in 2013-14, the cross-party Committee cites low levels of private funding attracted to date as a cause for concern about ambitious future plans.”

This matter was tentatively raised, and disputed by the applicant, during the Thorney Bay Application in Principle to redevelop the Caravan Park. A sum of around £100,000 was suggested as being appropriate contribution towards the necessary future Sea Defence Improvements by the applicant.

Since then, enquiries by the Canvey Green Belt Campaign group have revealed that Castle Point Council officers concede they have no mechanism in place for the collection of such Funds. Consequently no request towards the necessary external funding has been made by cpbc during the consideration of the application for the First Phase of the Thorney Bay development!

This further undermines the attempts by Defra and the Government to implement the Aspirations of the TE2100 (Thames Estuary) Plans for Canvey Island.

The Surface Water Flooding of Canvey Island during 2013 and 2014 were severe enough to warrant the Government Office for Science to undertake a Peer review of Essex County Council’s report on the Canvey Island flooding in July 2014.

The Government Office for Science Peer Review can be found HERE.

The Essex County Council Report into Canvey Island Flooding 2014 can be found HERE.

The Environment Agency consider the Canvey Island Drainage System as being “complicated”.

It is reliant on Gravity, as the Island is so flat, for water to reach the Pumps that are installed to transfer surface water to the Thames Estuary.

These pumps will not cope with the levels of water should there be Tidal Flooding, and failed during the 2014 Flooding event, requiring improvements to the mechanisms.

Maintenance is a continual requirement to Drains and Ditches. The Environment Agency and Essex County Highways division are affected by ongoing budget constraints, meaning Maintenance may be insufficient at any particular time.

These issue were all revealed during the report and enquiry following the 2014 flooding.

Alongside the Essex County Council Report and the Government Office for Science Peer Review, Castle Point Council’s Scrutiny Committee held a series of meetings during 2014 and earl 2015, to investigate the effects, the impact, the response and the causes of the Canvey Island Surface Water Flooding event.

The Castle Point Council Scrutiny Committee’s Report into the Canvey Island Flooding of 2014 remains Unpublished!

The Castle Point Council Webcasts of the Scrutiny Committee meetings are now unavailable!

Neither the Essex County Council Report into the Canvey Island Flooding of 2014, nor the Government Office for Science Peer Review are included within the cpbc Local Plan2016 Evidence Base! 

The Canvey Island Integrated Urban Drainage Study, is included in the cpbc Local Plan2016 Evidence Base in the form of a desk top published aspirational leaflet!

No Fund gathering mechanism is in place to collect the required External Funding for the future improvements of the Canvey Sea Defences.

In response to the National Flood Forum’s suggestion “Time to brief your MP and ask them to participate,” there appears plenty of concerns for our Local representatives to be lobbying our MP Rebecca Harris to participate over!