Maybe not a good idea to build on flood plains …

“Poor management of the rural landscape along with global heating and building on floodplains are the main factors that led to the floods that have engulfed towns in northern England, according to experts.

Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster are among the places flooded, 12 years after they were badly hit when the River Don burst its banks in 2007. Many affected areas, including Meadowhall shopping centre, where customers were stranded overnight, lie within the river’s floodplain – low-lying land next to the river that naturally floods during high flow.

“This is only a problem if you develop floodplains by building houses, businesses and factories on them, which is obviously what we have done over the years, so to some degree it’s a problem of our own making,” said Roy Mosley, the head of conservation and land management at Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust.

The risk faced by floodplain communities is exacerbated by the management of land upstream of the city. Intensive animal grazing leads to short grass and compacted soil, which is less able to absorb and hold water. There are no longer enough trees and plants to absorb rain and stop it from running straight into the river, Mosley said.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/nov/12/flooding-caused-by-poor-management-and-floodplain-building?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

“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