6 Jan 2010

Flood meeting makes progress

This week has been a busy one for meetings despite the snow - most of Monday various meetings re the Scrutiny inquiry I chair, evening meetings plus the wood fuel project and on Tuesday morning a long meeting at Ebley Mill (pictured earlier this week before snow) with District and County Council, the EA, Water 21, David Drew and Flood Action groups - particularly BARFF (Bridgend Against River Frome Flooding) who had called the meeting - indeed congrats to them for getting it together.

There were over 25 of us at the meeting and I can't do the many points justice here - first up was the issue of Downton Road - an area that has seen houses flood regularly - one of the residents there has had his home flooded 6 times in 3 years.

Photo: Downton Road (Brigend) - a lidar of the flood area showing how the road increases flooding - see more here.

Downton Road acts as a dam across the Bridgend flood plain - it’s height stops the flood water flowing freely into the western meadow causing water to back up the valley and flood the houses on the upstream side of the road. Furthermore the camber of the road directs the floodwater into the small meadow in front of Albion Terrace. Water 21 have surveyed the road and found that it is considerably higher than the surrounding meadows. The EA have now modelled this area and they presented findings of their three models using District Council data - basically the only option worth pursuing was possibly lowering the road for 40metres in one place and raising the road in another. This would have no impact further down but will lessen the risks of regular flooding.

The good news is that both the EA and County will now further investigate this and cost this to see if possible.

Another issue is one of the key sets of sluice gates. A number of years ago the EA repaired these gates but access remains difficult. The EA are pursuing this and hopefully some solutions can be found. One issue I am already looking at is how we can establish better communication between sluice gate operators - at the moment nobody downstream knows if a gate is opened upstream - an issue for our Stroud Valleys Water Forum next week.

There was also discussion about the role of watercourse wardens - who are not meant to deal with emergencies but identify issues along the brooks and rivers and report these - there is clearly confusion about their role and this will now hopefully be addressed.

Lastly we looked at how we can move forward a fully integrated 5 valleys wide water management approach - looking at all aspects of water attenuation, management, and storage. This is an issue we have been pursuing for a long while locally - Cllr Sarah Lunnon and myself have been in conversations with the District as to how that can be included in the Core Strategy so that SDC have powers to act - at the moment if a landowner says no to attenuation there is nothing we can do about it - yet that is the approach we must take if we are to reduce flooding downstream.

At this meeting there was progress with two students from Water 21 and Cranfield to work towards a plan with SDC and EA. More on all this in future blogs.

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