Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Long-term planning for flooding in the West Country

It is becoming very clear that we should not be building on flood plains:
Futures Forum: Flooding and building houses
Futures Forum: Building on floodplains in the South West

As the EDW blog has wryly pointed out:

A picture worth a thousand words …. | East Devon Watch
More new homes built on flood plains than off them | East Devon Watch
Many people don’t know they live on flood plains | East Devon Watch
Developments on flood plans: responsibility of local authorities | East Devon Watch

Planning for these eventualities is not just a matter of burying a few 'attenuation tanks':
Flooding – a Taunton solution | East Devon Watch
Futures Forum: Urban runoff and flooding in Sidmouth ... Relying on 'Victorian plumbing' or building on soakaways...
Futures Forum: Feniton "has been central to the greatest storm yet to burst over the way the Government’s flawed planning policies are allowing builders to 'lay siege' to rural England."

Meanwhile, there has been more thought about longer-term planning for flooding.

Climate change will affect infrastructure:
Dawlish rail line could be cut off for a third of the year by rising sea levels, study suggests | Exeter Express and Echo

The Exeter flood defences provide a good example of what can be done:
Environment Agency's top man visits Exeter to inspect first phase of the city’s flood defence scheme | Exeter Express and Echo
Futures Forum: Preparing for flooding: the EA's Flood Action Campaign

Interestingly, local West Country politicians are in agreement that there must be better long-term planning:

South West MPs back Labour calls for long-term Government flood plans

By WMNKLangston | Posted: December 29, 2015

Westcountry MPs have welcomed Labour’s calls for all future Governments to commit to a long-term flood spending plan, as weather warnings remain in place across the region.

Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell argued the “stop-start” nature of flood funding has undermined effective defence work, urging parties need to sign-up to a consistent strategy.

His comments echo similar calls by Conservative MPs in the South West, who are pushing for flood prevention to be treated more like a long-term infrastructure investment.

The proposals come as flood-affected communities in Yorkshire, Cumbria and Lancashire prepare for the onslaught of storm Frank. Swathes of Devon and Cornwall are also facing yellow weather warnings for wind and rain, with the potential for river flooding.

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr McDonnell said MPs must take the issue of flooding “beyond party politics”. “People don’t want to hear party-political knockabout from this,” he said. “We cannot be a situation where there’s this stop-start approach to investment.”

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is set to make cuts of 15% between now and 2020, but has pledged to protect spending on maintenance activities such as river dredging. However, earlier this month it also emerged that Government spending on flood and erosion prevention measures will be cut by £116 million in 2015/16 – 14%less than the previous year.

Tiverton and Honiton MP and Efra committee chairman Neil Parish has repeatedly called for flood defence budgets to be protected from cuts. He welcomed Labour’s suggestion as part of broader efforts to boost resilience.

“We need to treat flooding like an infrastructure project – if we’re going to spend money on infrastructure, we need to spend it on flooding and have protections,” he said. “If we could get to the situation where we have cross party support for long-term funding from Parliament to Parliament, that’s good.

“But not only does the level of funding need to be maintained from one Parliament to another, we need to devolve more powers down to drainage authorities and local authorities.

“And we’ve got to look at the way we manage farmland – farmers should be given compensation to manage that land in a way which helps protect others from flooding.”

The Government has ordered a major review of flood prevention strategy after recent incidents in Northern counties saw thousands of residents evacuated and many left without power. Environment Agency deputy chief executive David Rooke said the organisation would have to look at ways to flood-proof homes as the UK was “moving into a period of unknown extremes”.

Fellow Efra committee member Rebecca Pow, MP for Taunton Deane, said striving for cross-party agreement on flooding is an “eminently sensible” goal. “We have seen yet another serious succession of flooding, very similar to what happened in Somerset in 2013/14 which the Government dealt with very effectively,” she said. “Issues like flooding are not political and they need to be dealt with using all the right advice.

“We don’t want stop-start change all the time when we’ve got these really big capital investments to be delivered.”

South West MPs back Labour calls for long-term Government flood plans | Western Morning News
Flood protection must not be put at risk by spending cuts, urge MPs | Western Morning News

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