- Meeting of Transport, Environment and Communities Select Committee, Tuesday 17th January 2017 10.00 am (Item 6.)
Members will receive the 12 month progress update on the recommendations made to Cabinet in the flooding inquiry. Members will examine the progress and assess the level of completion of each of the recommendations.
Warren Whyte, Cabinet Member for Environment.
Karen Fisher, Strategic Flood Management Team Leader.
Andy Fyfe, Head of Resilience and Community Safety.
The Chairman welcomed Mr Warren Whyte, Cabinet Member for Environment, Ms K Fisher, Strategic Flood Management Team Leader, Mr A Fyfe, Head of Community Safety and Resilience, and Mr M Averill, Head of Strategic Highways (Client).
The Cabinet Member, Warren Whyte provided the Committee with an update and introduction on the recent work and activity in relation to strategic flood Planning. Key areas covered were:
- The activity on strategic Flood Planning
- The County’s role in the Regional Flood and Coastal Committees (RFCC) – the Cabinet Member attended the two for the county on a regular basis and has met with the Chair for these to discuss the issues faced in Bucks.
- Officers were taking part in looking at the next 25 year for flood management as part of a regional RFCC initiative
- The role and benefit of regional RFCCs – the Council’s contribution enables the authority to access more scheme funding. The importance of the relationship with these Committees was key to gaining infrastructure spending within Buckinghamshire
- Working with districts to respond to the flood issues which may arise from the proposed growth.
- The revised local flood risk management strategy was due out later in the spring.
- An overview of a number of strategic flood management risk projects was given.
- Staffing, a major part of the inquiry, has been addressed and increased the team by 3 people.
- The major challenge of sustainable drainage applications – 250 last year with a predicted 400 in 2017/.
- Challenge of HS2 and surface water flooding.
Questions from Members covered the following areas:
- Shovel ready" schemes: Members heard that no schemes were currently shovel ready due to resource but the team were currently working on this. A number of schemes have had feasibility studies and outline business cases. E.g. the Marlow surface water scheme could be ready by next financial year.
- Unresolved issues in relation to recommendation 2 and sandbags:
Members heard that it was not a statutory duty for the local authority to provide or collect sandbags to protect private property. Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC) had a mutual aid agreement with the County Council via Transport for Bucks (TfB) which would hold a minimal stock of filled sandbags (due to bags degrading) but would hold a stock of sand and empty bags separately to fill as required. AVDC already signposted people to TfB for sandbags from its website. TfB and AVDC needed to confirm arrangements. The disposal of used or contaminated sandbags was the responsibility of the homeowner. The public were reminded that they had to manage the flood risk to their property in areas where risk was known, and that they should protect their own homes. Resource needed to be saved for unexpected incidents.
- How HS2 would work with Council in terms of flooding risks – collaboration:
Members heard that the Council had regular meetings with HS2 to look at standardised designs, consenting procedures and opportunities for integration and that they took a similar approach with East-West rail. Collaboration was working well, with good communication. The point was raised about the importance of collaboration to minimise the risk of duplication of work between the organisations.
- Whether there had been any rise in incidents since the improvements:
Members heard that in March and June last year there was heavy rain which caused a couple of isolated issues. In March there were flooding issues in Buckingham and in June there were issues in Amersham, with heavy flooding. In September there was widespread flooding on the roads. The recent rain had not caused problems but due to unsaturated ground following a generally dry Autumn.
- Member Briefing for flooding concerns in relation to growth across the county:
A member briefing was suggested to highlight flooding risks with the growth in the county, possible as part of the Aylesbury garden town briefing. There is also a mapping project being developed that will capture this information on flood risk areas.
Action: Ms Fisher: To add to the Member Briefing scheduled for the 28th June (post elections).
- Resolution of a blockage on Tring Road, Aylesbury:
ACTION: Ms Fisher to provide an update to the local Member.
- The gully cleaning programme contribution to local flooding:
Members heard from the Cabinet Member that he spoke regularly with the Cabinet Member for Transportation regarding problem areas where gully cleaning needed to happen more regularly. There were only 2 gully cleaning machines to clear approx. 85,000 gullies. Members heard that discussions were needed with TfB to ensure that the machinery was used effectively. The Cabinet Member highlighted the risk mapping that was taking place and that he would continue to work with the Cabinet Member for Transportation to address this issue.
- Public engagement:
Members heard that in known areas of risk, public engagement was high. New risk mapping would enable identification of opportunities for more proactive engagement. Members heard that the Community Safety and Resilience Team were in the process of doing more community resilience workshops with Parish and Town Councils to help develop appropriate community emergency plans and that the strategic flood team were also working with specific Parish Councils to develop flood emergency plans. Members heard about the challenges for the strategic flood team in commissioning others to do operational activities. TfB was looking at how their systems could link with the flood teams to work more closely together to understand where the flood team issues were on the network.
- The robustness of the Council’s process/response of flood management:
Members heard that the joint emergency response was in place and would work in the event of an emergency.
- The response to the project for landowners to clear their ditches:
Members heard that whilst it was difficult to engage, a leaflet setting was available which set out responsibilities and that other organisations such as the National Farmers Union were used to engage.
- The mapping exercise for flood risk:
Members heard that the Environment Agency (EA) likelihood-of-flood mapping and the County Council’s mapping would look at the consequences of flooding and may raise other areas not in the EA mapping. All incidents were logged and recorded on GIS mapping and made available for all partners, but would not be put online. The mapping was currently available to the public and open to public challenge.
Members confirmed that the recommendations were completed to their satisfaction.
The Chairman thanked the Cabinet Member and officers, acknowledging the hard work and dedication of the team and the progress and improvements that had been made.