Flood alleviation works keep Surrey Heath safe from flooding

I’m worried that I’m tempting fate here, by saying Surrey Heath is well prepared for flood events at this time. Really, I should say the eastern part of Surrey Heath is well prepared, from the map below the River Blackwater and the Blackwater Valley have flood alerts.

Here’s the latest Environment Agency flood warning/alert map for our local area.

flood-map-jan-2017Readers here will, I’m sure will know of my keen interest in flood alleviation as Lightwater has in the recent past suffered from flooding. See HERE why its important, and most recent article on the subject HERE, if you’re interested.

I’m somewhat out of date on knowing where the most recent flood alleviation works have occurred, or are planned in the Borough. I’d better do some research. Will tell you what I’ve found.

O frabjous day! McVities bourbons and ginger nuts back in production

Bourbon_biscuitsThe floods in Carlisle, Cumbria on December 5th last year caused the closure of McVities biscuit factory.

I’ve always liked biscuits, though not every type of biscuit. I can leave certain biscuit types in the biscuit barrel as I pass buy. I have no will power when the barrel contains bourbon or ginger nut biscuits – and yes they have to be McVities to meet my discerning palate for biscuits.

It’s, therefore, wonderful news to hear that McVities Ginger Nuts are back in production, and many other brands produced by McVities in Carlisle.

I’ve placed my order on my wife’s shopping list, and am expectantly awaiting the arrival of my favourite biscuits. I know I’ll have to wait a while, as McVities are promising availability around the end of March. I should say that my biscuit intake is rationed, otherwise I’d become of Billy Bunter size in no time at all.

The chairman of the Environment Agency resigns

Sir Phillip Dilley, chairman of the Environment Agency has resigned – see full details HERE.

Thames BarrierIt seemed to me to be the most likely result from his absence while remaining on holiday during the floods in England prior to Christmas. Here’s part of his stated reasons of resigning,

My reason for resigning is that the expectations of the role have expanded to require the Chairman to be available at short notice throughout the year, irrespective of routine arrangements for deputy and executive cover. In my view this is inappropriate in a part-time non-executive position, and this is something I am unable to deliver.

Furthermore the media scrutiny focused on me is diverting attention from the real issue of helping those whose homes and businesses have flooded, as well as the important matter of delivering a long-term flood defence strategy. This same media attention has also affected and intruded on my immediate family, which I find unacceptable.

Is it possible that one new condition will be added to the job specification – ‘Absence from duty while on agreed holiday is overridden when crises arise, such as floods or similar, then expected to end holiday immediately.’

Who’s had a good flood, and who a bad flood

Draining flooded drivewayI don’t mean this in an unkind way, as all floods are bad. Those people whose homes and businesses are flooded generally seek to organisations to blame as a focus of their anger. I know, as I’ve witnessed it.

Some individuals and organisations have has a ‘good’ flood, while others have had a ‘bad’ flood. Here’s my list, by no means exhaustive, and only from watching mainstream media,

  • Rory Stewart MP, government floods minister. Faced questions from the media and residents throughout the day of the floods in Cumbria. See more in the Daily Mail, and website HERE.
    • Very good flood: visible, knowledgeable, and does help, of course, to be the local MP in an area of extreme flood events which adds a bit passion.
  • Lt Col Hamish Cormack, CO of 2 Lancs – The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment.
    • In his Facebook message HERE, saying, “After 4 weeks of back-to-back support to flooding operations across the North of England the Bn is now back to being on standby to support whatever comes next. We have been at the forefront of the response to these unprecedented events, bouncing across the country to meet the next challenge. It has been an incredible experience; operating in the dirt and destruction of the flooding has been exhausting and often challenging but the way our people have approached it has been nothing short of amazing…..” 
    • Very good flood: visible, energetic, with terrific support from his battalion.
  • Sir Philip Dilley, chairman of the Environment Agency. Chose to remain on a family holiday in Barbados while the Agency struggled to manage to flood situation.
    • Very bad flood: Important to be seen, and to meet agency staff at each of the flooded areas.
  • Rt Hon Liz Truss MP, government cabinet minister for the environment. Faced questioning from the media and locals in York and Tadcaster.
    • Good Flood: As cabinet minister responsible a tough call to face locals whose homes and businesses flooded. Depends on your point of view as to whether she’s had a good or an OK flood. Has promised the replacement of Tadcaster Bridge as a national priority.
  • Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn, left visiting flooded areas for 5 days, and footwear not suitable for visiting flooded areas.
    • Bad Flood: A difficult role to be critical of government, yet supportive of volunteers. Tough call to visit or stay away – better to visit early in my opinion.
  • Pickering, a town in North Yorkshire in a deep valley has avoided flooding through careful and sensible flood mitigation.
    • Very Good Flood: to have avoided the floods.

Photos of before and after the flood damage to Tadcaster’s ancient bridge

The partial collapse of the 300 year old Tadcaster Bridge over the River Wharfe is disaster for the town. It’s a much loved historic attraction, and its closure will entail lengthy diversions for residents. The Yorkshire Post has a video of the bridge collapse and plenty of photos.  Here are photos of before and after the flood damage. Picture credits to Mtaylor848 for partially collapsed bridge and Dr Ivan Hall for the other photo.

 

I love ancient and historic bridges – in the UK naturally. I’ve a small library of book on ancient bridges – not sure my wife see’s as small. One of the books is The Ancient Bridges of the North of England by E Jervoise, 1931 Architectural Press. It contains the following description of the bridge.

The last bridge across the Wharfe before it joins the River Ouse is Tadcaster Bridge. The important crossing was mentioned in the Patent Rolls, and five separate grants of pontage were issued between 1346 and 1400, and several early sixteenth century wills contain bequests for the maintenance of the bridge. Leland recorded that ‘the Bridge at Tadcaster over Wharfe hath 8 faire arches of stone,’ but John Wharburton, c. 1720, gives the number as nine. Thomas Allen, in 1823, also recorded that the bridge has nine arches and that it was ‘erected at the beginning of the eighteenth century from ruins of the castle.’

Only seven arches are now visible and the bridge has been widened by about 15 feet and is now 28 feet between parapets.

The Daily Mail has extensive coverage of the bridge collapse a government minister making the bridge repair a ‘national priority’.

Local investment in flood protection delivers

Last week locally we had some very rainy days, not quite deluges, but not far short.

Protection against flooding was probably my enduring concern while I served as a councillor on Surrey Heath Borough Council. [Type flooding in the search box to find the many, many posts on the topic].I’ve spoken before about the impact on me in talking Lightwater Streamto householders in Lightwater who’s homes were flooded two years running. The borough council’s drainage engineer put a flood protection plan in place and over eight years has ensured year-on-year improvement in that protection. I believe work is ongoing.

In standing down from the council I didn’t want to become a busybody afterward, and so I’ve kept out of local issues. I couldn’t entirely switch off from flood watch. I visited the Lightwater stream and found it very full, but not over-topping its banks. There are reports that some gardens and garages were flooded – though I don’t have the data.

The point of this blog post is to state, in my experience, that investment and actions in local flood protection has been both beneficial and effective.

Works in Hammond’s lower pond in the Lightwater Country Park over before Easter

Hammond Lower Pond improvementsHad a good long chat to our Borough drainage engineer today at Hammond’s lower Pond in the Lightwater Country Park. The drainage works associated with the pond, which has also involved re-sculpting the pond, are, I’m told, due to be completed next week.

I haven’t got a photo of how Hammond’s lower pond looked before the current works. Though from memory is was generally unattractive, especially around the outfall, which has received significant attention, and now looks better. Today’s photo shows the progress to date.