“The UK’s big flooding problem is only going to get worse”

“… In February, the Environment Agency warned that if global temperatures continue to rise in line with current trends, the UK will need to spend £1 billion a year to adequately protect homes from flooding. Currently the UK government spends just under two-thirds of that amount – £600 million. Meanwhile, the risk of flooding appears to be heading in only one direction: upwards.

… While the risk of heavy flooding is becoming more frequent – the Met office logged 17 record-breaking rainfall months since 1910, with nine of them since 2000 – the UK remains reliant on flood defense systems to limit its impact. A June 2019 analysis by Flood Re, a scheme set up by insurers and the government to cut the cost of property cover for people in flood-prone areas, showed that inland flooding would cost the entire country almost three times more on an annual basis without defences – £1.8bn rather than £700m.

This is based on the UK’s past experience with flooding. For instance, the Environment Agency said the floods caused by Storm Desmond in 2015 cost the economy about £1.6bn in England alone, a figure which could have exceeded £2.8bn if Cumbria had not upgraded its flood defences, following previous flooding in 2009 and 2005. The agency’s latest economic assessment estimates that for every £1 spent on defences, around £9 in property damages and wider impacts would be avoided.

On launching the Environment Agency’s new strategy, chair Emma Howard Boyd said: “The coastline has never stayed in the same place and there have always been floods.” Building high walls and barriers may not be enough to deal with flooding as climate change is increasing and accelerating the threat, she says, adding that “We need to develop consistent standards for flood and coastal resilience in England that help communities better understand their risk and give them more control about how to adapt and respond.” These standards could include sustainable drainage systems and the design of existing and new properties, in addition to traditional barriers and natural flood control techniques such as tree planting and no-till farming.”

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/flooding-in-uk-weather-defence

“Environment Agency Chair calls for new approach to flood and coastal resilience”

“… Launching a major, long-term strategy to tackle flooding and coastal change, Environment Agency Chair, Emma Howard Boyd has said ‘we cannot win a war against water’ by building higher flood defences and called for a new approach to ensure communities are resilient to the threat of flooding posed by climate change.

Opening an 8-week consultation on the new strategy, Emma Howard Boyd said that the Environment Agency is preparing for a potential 4°C rise in global temperature and urgent action is needed to tackle more frequent, intense flooding and sea level rise.

Among the recommendations in the strategy, the Environment Agency has committed to working with partners to develop consistent standards for flood and coastal resilience across the country. To achieve these standards, communities should have access to a range of tools which give them control of how they prepare for and respond to flooding and coastal change, based on the challenges or flood risk that particular location may face.

These could include traditional defences, temporary barriers, natural flood management, sustainable drainage systems, effective flood warnings and emergency response, alongside designing and adapting existing properties and new development so they can recover quickly from a flood. …”

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/environment-agency-chair-calls-for-new-approach-to-flood-and-coastal-resilience

“Sidmouth sea defences could cost double the £9m expected”

NOT unexpected to Owl! At the moment, decisions on whether to fund are done on a “cost per dwelling saved” and that factors in the value of the dwelling. As costs rise (and possibly house prices level out ot fall) and austerity continues, the less likely DEFRA is to fund projects.

“The current estimated cost of the project is around £9milion over its entire lifespan – around £5.7million is expected to be funded by central government, leaving a funding gap of around £3.3million.

At a recent steering group committee, additional offshore breakwaters were discussed and it was explained again that although the breakwaters may present a more robust solution technically, they would come at almost double the cost.

The cost has been re-examined recently by consultants Royal HaskoningDHV and they have confirmed that the previous costings as part of the Beach Management Plan were correct.

Royal HaskoningDHV also presented some of the more detailed outline design drawings they are now working on, which have been developed with the use of 3D models to help ensure that costs for the volumes of rock and shingle are estimated accurately.

Additional surveys are being carried out along the seafront to help inform the outline design of the splash wall.

The proposals also include improving maintenance access onto East Beach for future recycling and replenishment.

Royal HaskoningDHV’s thorough tests and methodical approach has resulted in a proposal to recharge the beach with a 10 metre flat section at the top, and a suggested increase in the height of the splash wall of up to 0.5 metres from its existing level, with sections of lower height where the beach is less exposed. …”

https://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/sidmouth-sea-defences-could-cost-double-1-5875210

Sidmouth flood defences delayed so PegasusLife can gobble up car parks and meadows to store building materials!

“A £750,000 scheme to protect hundreds of town-centre homes and businesses from flooding looks set to be delayed until the building of a controversial 113-home retirement community at Knowle is completed.

The news comes after the district council agreed with developers PegasusLife to allow the use of the lower car park and nearby flower meadow for storage space during construction. It is not yet clear on what basis the council’s car park is being used.

The use of the lower car park would mean phase two of the £759,000 Sidmouth Surface Water Improvement Scheme will have to be redrawn as the proposed lagoon feature and above ground storage area are located adjacent to the car park.

Devon county councillor Stuart Hughes said officers will meet the district council on Thursday (November 29) to discuss options at the site.

Cllr Hughes said: “After all the work that’s gone into getting the funding for the scheme, it will be delayed.

“East Devon District Council [EDDC] has agreed to the storage equipment of PegasusLife for their construction and will not allow county to use this area until after construction is complete.

“Hopefully the officers will find out at the meeting which option they prefer and whether we can achieve the level of flood improvements we desire.

“I do hope that we can find an alternative for the lagoon SUDS system so that the 300 properties and businesses in the town will be protected from future flood events.”

An EDDC spokeswoman said the authority is in discussion with the partners involved.

In January, PegasusLife won an appeal to turn EDDC’s headquarters at Knowle into a large scale 113-home retirement community after its application was rejected in December 2016.

Campaigner Ed Dolphin has slammed the use of the car park as a ‘slap in the face’ and claims it is likely to be a blow to Sidmouth’s economy as it might affect the park and walk service into town.

Mr Dolphin said: “Many people objected to the Knowle development as a blight on the green corridor as visitors entered the town. This move will bring it to the forefront, right down to the roadside.

“Even worse, it seems that the developers need even more space and so they are to be given the flower meadow next to the car park as well, the one that was mown by mistake in the summer and which EDDC promised to care for in the future. The meadow is already waterlogged for the winter and storing building materials and machinery on it will probably ruin it for years.

“I do not see why PegasusLife need this extra space, their site has three large car park areas that could be used for storage at various times in the development.”

He called the park and walk car park in Station Road a ‘valuable asset’ as it reduced the strain on the town centre, was popular in the winter and boosted the town’s independent traders.

PegasusLife has been approached for a comment.”

https://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/eddc-pegasuslife-throw-flood-scheme-at-knowle-into-question-1-5798537

“Take business park land out of Local Plan say campaigners”

“Campaigners have called for land earmarked for a multi-million pound Sidford business park to be taken out of the Local Plan.

t follows East Devon District Council’s decision to throw out an application to build 8,445sqm of employment floor space on an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The proposed development for the Two Bridges site received 255 comments of objection and 111 in support. A campaign group also submitted a petition to the council with 1,400 signatures opposing the plans.

Now campaigners are calling on council bosses to look at removing the area, earmarked for development, out the Local Plan, claiming it should have never been there in their first place.

The Herald understands the application could once again go to appeal following a response from East Devon District Council saying it would not be appropriate to respond to the campaigners’ comments.

An EDDC spokeswoman said: “As we understand that this matter is now going to appeal, it would not be appropriate to make any comments about the status of the Local Plan.

“The campaigners can make their points direct to the Planning Inspector in support of the council’s decision to refuse.”

Councillor Marianne Rixson has spoken out on the reasons why the town should join her rallying call to pressure the authority to look at taking the site out of the Local Plan at the earliest opportunity.

The Local Plan

“When a Government inspector was examining the suitability of the site in 2014, county Highways failed to point out that the roads would not be able to cope with the traffic an industrial estate would bring. Highways only admitted their error in September 2016.

“After the draft Local Plan had been sent to the Inspector for final approval in 2015, district councillors realised they’d made a mistake and voted almost unanimously to try to remove it from the plan but no effort was made to explain to the Inspector the reasons why the site was unsuitable – consequently he had no option but to rule that the site should remain, subject to planning.”

Flooding issues:

“It is on a floodplain and flooding will inevitably get worse with climate change.

“The Two Bridges site is in zones 3A and two flood risk zones – yet another reason why this site is unsuitable.”

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB):

“England has 34 AONB all of which are supposed to have the highest rate of protection in law and Government policy.

“We should only build on AONB if there is an overwhelming need for a development. The owners’ plans for a business park were market driven so there isn’t any hard proof. Surely we need to know for sure that there is an overwhelming need for employment space in the Sid Valley before we destroy this AONB?

“I would advocate for the district and town councils to work together to look seriously at how we can attract good quality, well paid jobs into the valley and how we can most effectively locate them without encroaching into the AONB and where there is good transport infrastructure.

“We need to attract good quality, well paid jobs into the area. Surely we can do this without encroaching into the AONB and where there are better road links? Regrettably by mid November Sidmouth will have lost three banks and building societies. Far better to turn these buildings into offices, which would help to keep our town vibrant, rather than build new offices on the outskirts.

Roads:

“Traffic cannot cope on this narrow road as it is due to the bottlenecks and number of HGVs already using the A375 – it will not be able to cope with more.

“Highways now agree this is not suitable for HGVs. “For two lorries to pass you need 6.5 metres. The main access for business park would be School Street which has a pinch point of 4.77 metres. There are several points through Sidbury too where the road is less than 5.5m, including Sidbury Mill and Cotford Bridge.

“Surely there should be a weight restriction on this road?

“According to an FOI submitted by the Say No Sidford Business Park campaigners some 30,000 cars travelled along the road in one off-peak week in April.

“I’d like to call for a weigh restriction on these struggling roads.

Endangered Bats and Japanese knotweed:

“The Two Bridges site is an important wildlife site for species that are protected such as horseshoe bats, otters and dormice.

“Knotweed exterminators have been seen on the site – it takes several years to get rid of.

Light Pollution

“The Norman Lockyer Observatory is both historical and the home to an active amateur astronomical society.

It also has plans to build a £70,000 extension so more experiments can take place than ever before.

“The light from any business park there will have an impact on the night sky, which currently has semi rural dark skies status at Sidford.”

http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/campaigners-reasons-why-sidford-business-park-land-should-not-be-in-eddc-local-plan-1-5772366

Coastal communities at high risk within a generation

“Rising sea levels will claim homes, roads and fields around the coast of England, the government’s official advisers have warned, and many people are unaware of the risks they face.

The new report from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said existing government plans to “hold the line” in many places – building defences to keep shores in their current position – were unaffordable for a third of the country’s coast. Instead, the CCC said, discussions about the “hard choices” needed must be started with communities that will have to move inland.

“There genuinely will be homes that it will not be possible to save,” said Baroness Brown, chair of the CCC’s adaptation committee. “The current approach is not fit for purpose. This report is really a wake-up call to the fact that we can’t protect the whole English coast to today’s standard.”

She added: “We could see as much as a metre of sea level rise before the end of the century, so within the lifetime of today’s children, and that has a major impact on coastal flooding and erosion.” Prof Jim Hall, another member of the committee, said: “We are not prepared.”

The regions affected include areas with soft, eroding shores in the south and east, as well as low-lying areas in East Anglia, Lincolnshire, parts of the south-west such as the Somerset Levels, and the coast between Liverpool and Blackpool in the north-west.

The entire coast of England is already covered by shoreline management plans, developed by the Environment Agency and local councils. These would cost £18-30bn to implement, but have no funding and no legal force. The CCC analysis found that, for more than 150km of coast, the plans to hold the line would cost more than the property and land that would be protected.

For another 1,460km of coast, the benefit of holding the line was twice the cost, but the government only currently funds defences with at least a sixfold cost-benefit ratio. “Funding for these locations is unlikely and realistic plans to adapt to the inevitability of change are needed now,” said the report.

The report also found that 520,000 properties are already in areas with significant coastal flood risk. However, this may treble to 1.5m by the 2080s without action.

Currently, 8,900 properties are at risk from coastal erosion and in 2014 the Environment Agency calculated that 7,000 homes, worth more than £1bn, would fall into the sea this century. But the CCC report found that in the 2080s another 100,000 properties would be at risk of sliding into the sea.

As well as properties, key infrastructure is also at risk from the sea level rise and bigger storms being driven by climate change. In the 2080s, 1,600km of major roads, 650km of railway line and 92 stations will be at risk, the CCC found. Ports, power stations and gas terminals are also in danger. A further risk is toxic waste from old landfill sites falling into the sea as the coast is eroded; a 2016 study found 1,000 such sites at risk.

Pollution risk from over 1,000 old UK landfill sites due to coastal erosion.

Brown said people living in coastal areas do not have access to good information about the risks they face. “A retired couple could buy, with cash, a house with a fabulous sea view without being given any information about whether it was at risk of erosion,” she said.

Making better information easily available would alarm people but was vital, said Hall. It would also affect property values, he said: “If it was better communicated, as we think it should be, then that would have a [negative] impact on house prices.”

The government must work with local councils on long-term, funded programmes that engage people and help them move if necessary, the CCC said. “Those are very difficult decisions,” said Brown. “Local councils are in a very tough situation having to raise those kind of issues with their communities. There may be a bit of denial going on in local authorities.” …”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/26/rising-sea-levels-will-claim-homes-around-english-coast-report-warns

Exmouth: dunes to disappear to replenish beach sand 2020-2025?

Fascinating that one of EDDC’s “old guard” councillors, Ray Franklin, got it SO wrong!

“… Cllr Ray Franklin, the portfolio holder for environment at East Devon District Council back in 2004, said: “The dunes will recover – it’s the way of nature. Sand has been lost, but it’s likely that the next storm will come from a different direction and bring more sand with it.”

And implications for the water sports centre?

“… Exmouth Beach is expected to be depleted over time, with the 2015 Beach Management Plan anticipating that beach recharge (importing new sand onto the beach) may be required between 2020 – 2025. The Beach Management Plan recommends that consideration is given to recycling of the material comprising the dunes to reinforce the beach between the new lifeboat station and Orcombe Point. …”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/what-happened-exmouths-iconic-sand-1935782