floodfieldsAs we heard from the Severn and Avon Vally Combined Flood Group last week, the Environment Agency only includes river flooding in its flood risk estimates. Insurers however take a more cautious approach, and while we may not want our premiums to go up, we would all rather have avoided the risk in the first place. New Flood Risk Assessment maps published by Landmark Information include minor rivers and surface water and give an overall figure of 30% for housing at risk from flooding as opposed to the 10% estimated by the Environment Agency. Landmark worked in conjunction with RMS to produce the reports. If homeowners won’t buy houses at risk, maybe developers can be deterred from building on the green belt.

Matthew Grant, global head of client development at RMS, which has been modelling all sources of flood risk since 2001, said: “The 2007 floods provided a stark reminder that major river flooding is just one part of the full flood risk picture, and a much more comprehensive view is needed. ”

There may well come a time when Save the Countryside should be commissioning RMS and/or Landmark Information to give us a detailed assessment of our area with its impermeable soils and fast flowing minor rivers.

To find out more read this article from today 20th January on the aboutproperty.co.uk site or the formal press release is available on Landmark’s  Homecheck  site along with some similar articles.

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Save the Countryside Meeting January 15th 2009 Municipal Offices

More than 40 people attended the meeting last night (15th January) to discuss the issues arising from proposals to build in the Green belt around Cheltenham.
Barbara Farmer from Safety in Waste and Rubbish Disposal (SWARD) outlined the history and issues associated with waste disposal at the Wingmoor Farm site near Bishops Cleeve.
In addition to the smells, flys, rats, noise and 82,000 traffic movements to and from Wingmoorevery year is the much bigger problem of toxic waste disposal. The hazardous waste site deals with ‘disposal’ of dioxins which amount to about 50% of the UKs total toxic waste.
The European Commission in a draft document maintained that there should be a half kilometer distance between non-hazardous waste sites and 2 kilometers distance from hazardous waste sites. This was not turned into law – but the so-called NW urban extension is to be built right up against the tip. Who will buy a house in such a situation?
Dave Wittsand Vernon Smith from the Severn and Avon Valley combined Flood Group outlined the history of flooding in the Severn Vale and the use of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SUDS). The evidence shows that most SUDS systems don’t work on the Severn Flood Plain because it is covered in impermeable clay and the water cannot soak away. Any building in the area of the NW urban extension will send more water down local streams into the Tewkesbury area and increase the risk of flooding there as happened in July 2007. Their campaign has attracted academic support from Professor Cluckie (Swansea University).
Cllr. Paul Massey, speaking for Cheltenham Council Leader Steve Jordan, indicated that the Regional Spatial Strategy has fallen even further behind and won’t be available until Summer 2009 now, and this will delay production of the Local Development Framework back. There will be a General Election in 2010 at which housing targets imposed on the area can be challenged.
Helen Wells, Chair of ‘Save the Countryside’ urged people to attend the meeting in Parliament on 21st January when Gloucestershire MPs will have an opportunity to meet one of the Ministers, Iain Wright, responsible for the RSS. ‘Save the Countryside’ is running a coach to it.
For further information, leave a comment on this site and we will get in touch.

John Webster

 

Gloucestershire County Council, whose web site still features a special section on flooding, is making it clear that it plans to object strongly to the Regional Spatial Strategy, with the main criticisms being around lack of consideration for flood risk and instrastructure planning.

Cabinet member for Environment, Councillor Julie Girling said: “The whole thing is not very well thought-out – in the Government’s terms it ‘lacks soundness’.  “We intend to make our views very clear on this. I’d like to reassure councillors and members of the public that we’ll be reflecting their views in doing so.”

The council is objecting over increased flood fears thousands of new homes would pose to the county and the lack of a flood-risk assessment in the RSS. It also says there is a lack of planning for new infrastructure – roads, schools, medical services – to support the area of new housing.

These are fears shared by us in North West Cheltenham, where the loss of vast tracts of pasture land to housing will mean the replacement of acres of natural water-absorbing meadows. Have a look at these photos to see what we mean. The run-off will surge into the Swilgate which flows north to join the Avon and Severn at Tewkesbury. The result will surely mean more flooding – Councillor Girling is right – this is not well thought-out at all.