Sunday, 27 March 2016

Flooding and local government >>> How much real power will communities have to deal with the issues?

An issue arising from the Climate Week in Sidmouth looked at how local authorities will react to climate change and flooding:

“... the way in which we manage risks associated with hazards such as flooding may need to evolve in the face of changes to local government funding.”

Futures Forum: Climate Week in Sidmouth: Dr Ewan Woodley and how communities will have to manage flooding and the effects of extreme weather

In other words:
> How much real power will local authorities have to deal with the issues?
> How much will the controversial ‘devolution’ packages help or hinder this process?
> And how much funding will be in fact available?

The news this weekend is that local authorities have had to foot quite a large, unexpected bill:
Winter floods cost councils £250m, says LGA - BBC News
Councils count £250m infrastructure cost of winter floods

The East Devon Watch blog quotes from the up-and-coming Local Enterprise Partnership and its response to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement last year - and its rather lacklustre response to dealing with flooding:

“We are pleased that the Exeter Flood Defence Scheme, which will help protect around 3200 businesses and residents across the city is taking shape. It’s vital that we take proactive flood alleviation measures to reduce the potentially disastrous consequences that flooding can have for the economy throughout the HotSW area.”

So, don’t hold your breath on the LEP being proactive with funding for flood resilience infrastructure

Flooding and severe weather - LEP response | Heart of South West Local Enterprise Partnership
UK winter floods cost councils £250 million -what is our LEP’s role in building flood resilience ? | East Devon Watch

Meanwhile, the County Council is carrying out some flooding-prevention measures in Sidmouth - although some would question the timing:
Knowle drainage to be sorted by DCC just in time for Pegasus development | East Devon Watch
Plan to prevent £12million of flood damage in Sidmouth - News - Sidmouth Herald

Indeed, another question would be: 
Why should local government pay for 'attenuation' infrastructure around developments:

"One of the recommendations of the Sidmouth SWMP was to consider attenuating surface run-off in the grounds of Knowle."
"... DCC is also liaising with East Devon District Council to further understand the specific flooding issues at Bulverton Park and Woolbrook Road."

Sidmouth’s flood risk plan gets council approval - News - Sidmouth Herald

Which leads to another question: 
To what extent does 'development' actually 'create flooding' anyway?
Futures Forum: Urban runoff and flooding in Sidmouth... Relying on 'Victorian plumbing' or building on soakaways...
Futures Forum: Sidford business park... and flooding: "Right now there are more questions than answers about how the new climate change guidance is going to be implemented. But be aware: this guidance is already a material consideration for all new planning applications and therefore, a valid reason for planning objections."

Especially as we seem to be 'making things worse':
Storm Frank: What have we done to make the flooding worse? - BBC News
Futures Forum: Flooding: "Have decisions made by the public and politicians alike made things worse?"

So, whilst there is a lot of public money out there and considerable planning is being done...
Futures Forum: Devon Emergency Community Flood Resilience Fund >>> £2k available to communities
Futures Forum: A flood plan for Sidmouth

Shouldn't a lot more be done to involve the local community in flood prevention measures?
Futures Forum: Making communities resilient to flooding >>> "Learning to listen: a community approach to understanding localised flood events"

And shouldn't more sensitive, less heavy-handed projects be considered?
Futures Forum: Reducing flooding through sustainable drainage systems >>> Water Sensitive Urban Design in the South-West

No comments: