Tag Archives: surface water flooding

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!

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!

Neither Tidal nor Surface Water Flood Risk a Constraint on Development, where Castle Point Council are concerned!

The issue of potential Flooding remains a Hot Topic. That is as it should be, however as we have seen within Castle Point Council it only acts as a Development Constraint verbally, rather than effectively.

The responsibility on Flood Risk should fall squarely on the shoulders of council members, but other interests and “fear” of scaremongering, in effect mean that Flood Risk as a Constraint on Development is disregarded.

Floods 2014 pic via Police Helicopter

View of Canvey Island flooding from Police Helicopter July 2014

The Environment Agency adopt a position where residents safety over the lifetime of a new development is left to council members, Canvey Island and mainland residents Representatives.

The EA consider;

“The site is currently protected by flood defences so is not at risk of flooding in the present-day 0.0% (1 in 1000) annual probability flood event. The defences will continue to offer protection over the lifetime of the development, provided that the TE2100 policy is followed and the defences are raised in line with climate change, which is dependent on future funding.” 

The Island’s Flood Risk Assessment confirms over topping will be a concern prior to the year 2100!

There are no guarantees of this future funding and residents may be surprised to know that much of this funding must be raised locally. Councillors should be in a position to inform us of the sources of this funding and of the avenues in place for the collection of these monies, if they are confident that the sea defences will receive the necessary improvements so as to have confidence any new builds that they approve, will be safe over its Lifetime!

The EA give further warning;

“Although Canvey Island is defended to a high standard of protection, it is at risk should there be a flood defence failure” 

Of course the official position of cpbc appears to be that as long as there is space provided for safe refuge areas above the ground floor, development is acceptable.

A somewhat contradictory position in respect that if Canvey Island could not Flood, the safe refuge requirement would be un-necessary.

Government and Defra continue to fumble about giving residents no security whilst planners and developers take advantage of the lack of a clear position.

The BBC Report;

The Commons environment committee said ministers were not addressing what it called the fragmented, inefficient and ineffective flood management.

Areas of concern include flood impact home insurance, building rules and local authority planning decisions.

The government rejected the criticism, saying it had accepted many previous suggestions on flooding from the MPs.

The committee’s comments are the latest in a running tussle between MPs and the environment department Defra.

 The MPs admit that flooding has risen up the government’s priority list, and say “considerable work” on flooding is being done across Whitehall. But they complain that ministers are still ignoring reasonable demands.

Jim Fitzpatrick MP, acting chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (Efra), said: “People living in areas of flood risk need to be reassured that the government is acting to improve our disjointed flood management system.

“Defra has failed to give sufficient justification for its rejection of our recommendations for important new measures.”

Continued development also increases pressure on Canvey Island’s drainage system, already capable of failure through misuse and lack of maintenance. Housing and Business development means Roads, Parking areas and hard impermeable surfaces intensify this issue as development approvals continue unabated.

This move to develop more and more areas of grass land on Canvey must be considered in the light of it inevitably increasing the likelihood of Surface Water Flooding, a warning of this issue is contained in a Research paper by Dr David Kelly. Its relevance to Canvey Island should be considered Striking!

It should be remembered that, whilst the sea defences have some ability to stop the Tide from over topping, they have absolutely no effect in stopping the Tidal Water from penetrating the ground from beneath, and causing flooding and a High Water Table by that means!

Impact of paved front gardens on current and future urban flooding” Research Paper by Dr D.A.Kelly

The proliferation of paved gardens is putting the UK’s towns and cities at greater risk of flooding and, by 2080, the UK’s urban drainage system could be overwhelmed by ‘runoff’ equivalent to the volume of up to 100 Olympic-sized swimming pools.  

The potential impact that paved gardens could have on urban flooding in Edinburgh, Exeter, Manchester and London by 2050 and 2080 was examined by Dr David Kelly, associate professor in Heriot-Watt’s Water Academy. 

Many gardens in the UK have been paved by homeowners who want low maintenance gardens or off-street parking. Covering traditional gardens with hard paving, and the subsequent loss of green vegetation, reduces the amount of rainfall that can be dealt with naturally and significantly increases the rate and volume of runoff flowing to surface water drainage systems. 

Dr Kelly applied projected rainfall intensities for each of the four UK cities to simulated front gardens that reflect the trends for paving. 

Calculating the runoff contribution from new and existing paved gardens will help planners and policy makers identify areas of risk in their town and city – and decide whether to call for homeowners to depave. Additionally, data of runoff from individual paved gardens could highlight the need for behaviour change, and help encourage homeowners to take action themselves by depaving their gardens and enhancing green vegetation.

Dr Kelly, assistant professor in Heriot-Watt University’s Water Institute said: “Domestic front gardens cover almost 30% of our urban space and play a vital role in managing surface water runoff in towns and cities. 

“Existing urban drainage systems will be inadequate to cope with the level of increased runoff from paved front gardens. With runoff from all impermeable surfaces, including paved front gardens, likely to increase in future due to urban densification, the risk of urban flooding will increase unless substantial efforts are made to minimise runoff.”

Homeowners and policymakers need to focus on depaving gardens across the UK.

Dr Kelly’s research showed that the collective runoff by the 2080s from front gardens alone is expected to increase by substantial amounts during extreme storm events due to climate change. 

“In Edinburgh, considering only gardens that are currently at least three-quarters paved, during just one storm, runoff could increase to 29,000m3 across the city, equivalent to 12 Olympic swimming pools, by 2080.”  

“In London, the volume of runoff could increase up to as much as 278,000m3 (equivalent to 100 Olympic swimming pools). ” 

“But, if all of these gardens were depaved and had zero impermeable cover, then the runoff could almost be eliminated, particularly if combined with enhanced green vegetation solutions.”

 D.A.Kelly’s research paper; “Impact of paved front gardens on current and future urban flooding” can be found HERE

The full BBC Environment Parliamentary Report can be found HERE.

 

 

Work still in Progress, Canvey Island – Flooding

Following the surface water flooding at Canvey Island during July 2014, the Castle Point Council Scrutiny Committee held a series of meetings.

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Canvey Road gulley June 2016

The meetings were held in public and residents were given time to make known their experiences.

The scrutiny committee heard from the various agencies charged with preventing and responding to flood events in the county.

Essex County Council Highways attended the meeting held on the 21st October 2014.

The Highways representative was refreshingly open and honest when he held his hands up, apologised for the lack of maintenance carried out on the main highway gullies and promised that a new regime would be implemented, allowing cleansing to be carried out on a regular basis.

The weather patterns of late, whether caused by climate change or not, has led to more frequent spells of rainy weather. That Essex County Council Highways have not kept to their word regarding maintenance is disappointing.

The photograph above followed a typical rainy spell in June 2016. Let’s hope it is not too many months before our local councillors remind ECC Highways of their responsibility following the public promises made to the CPBC scrutiny committee!

The scrutiny report into the flooding of 2014 remains un-published.