Lib Dem County Councillor Stephen Robinson sent us a few snippets about a recent County Council meeting that are worth passing on:
The main item was discussing flooding – including plans to mitigate and explain to landowners their responsibilities to keep drains and ditches clear that are on, or next to, their land.
We also heard about a pilot in the Maldon District to (for the first time, would you believe) take action on breaches of Highway rules. If this team is deemed to be successful (April review) then it may be rolled out across Essex.
Departments surprisingly (?) operate in such isolation from one another that a formal Memo of Understanding was required between the Highways Enforcement Team and the Flood Management Team so that they could use each other’s legal powers to get things done!
The recent Rochford Matters edition actually explained responsibilities –
The Environmental Agency is responsible for Rivers and “critical ordinary watercourses” ( main streams and some main ditches ) – most ditches are
the Landowners responsibility.
Essex County Council is the lead Authority and responsible for Flood Risk
1.Including groundwater flooding ( groundwater table Level rise ),
2.Surface water ( rainfall ),
3.Ordinary watercourses ( streams and ditches).
Anglian Water are responsible for both Storm Water and Foul Water via the
Drains and Sewage systems.
As demonstrated during the Somerset Levels flooding crisis this split responsibility ( the ECC surface water runs to the Anglian Water storm drains ,
as does some EA watercourse run off when flooding and so on…. ) leads to a
muddled responsibility matrix – and a way out of it.
Just downstream of the ‘ Land North of the London Rd’ site ( namely
Rawreth ) is a particularly complex situation , especially if Tide coincides
with heavy rainfall .
Rawreth includes an element of River , some Critical Watercourses, some Ordinary Streams, a rising Groundwater Table level and Private Ditches.
Historically the village only flooded coincident with extremely major events
( ie: 1953 East Coast Floods / 1987 Great Storm ) but it has become more frequent over the last 15 years . A probable cause is the Westward creep of
Rayleigh development ( fields converted to hard surfaces ) from the East combined by the ” dam ” created by the elevated new A130 highway created
to the West – effectively boxing in the Village.
It is therefore of great concern that the recent RDC approval of the Countryside proposal specifically does not include a Downstream Flood Risk Assessment,
but does offer a financial contribution to unspecified Flood Protection Measures for the village.
Conversely much is made of the Sustainable Urban Drainage System ( SUDS )
to be installed (” and maintained for life”) on the actual Countryside site of
new housing. Such a system requires that the impact ( upstream and downstream ) has to be assessed so as not to upset the delicate equilibrium
that exists due to all the foregoing combination of elements involved.
The question remains as to as to who is responsible if it goes wrong – RDC /
EA / ECC or AW……….all having approved the proposal ?.
You need to read the few words in the assessment report from the Environmental Agency presented with the OP for Countryside’s massive housing development ” Approval must only be agreed if the Local Authority are satisfied the proposals are sustainable for the LIFETIME of the development”. They have effectively washed their hands of responsibility. It will be RDC that will be responsible for any problems due to climate change, as well as insufficient drainage to prevent any future flooding, after voting to agree the development.
That is why I included the reference to ” and maintained for life ” but I suspect that RDC will assume ( as usual with roads / schools….. ) that they are off the hook if the Consultee’s have approved .
To be fair Anglian Water maintained their own objection at the 2nd submission – it says so in the Officers Report , so with the EA heavily qualifying their approval that leaves the Lead Consultee ( ECC ) who imposed the more stringent run-off criteria ( up to that point they were refusing ) , it took an 11th hour re-submission to get ECC approval.
All of is why I posted initially – it is far from convincing…………Flood wise.