Friday, 21 November 2014

Urban runoff and flooding in Sidmouth............................... Relying on 'Victorian plumbing' or building on soakaways...

The local news has been the flash flooding in the centre of Sidmouth:
FLOODING: Five people rescued from their cars last night after becoming stuck in flood water | Exeter Express and Echo
Five rescued from flood waters in Sidmouth and Clyset St George | Western Morning News
Flood warning - fire service repeats plea after homes flooded and motorists stranded in Sidmouth | Western Gazette

... with front-page coverage and full details from the Herald:
Latest local news & information in Sidmouth | Sidmouth Herald

Questions are being raised as to how this could have happened. The headlines blame the 'Victorian plumbing' - but there are fears that the building on fields simply exacerbates flooding:

Relationship between impervious surfaces andsurface runoff

Urban runoff - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mother Nature is plainly trying to tell us something

But planning is also in the dock. For centuries people avoided building in places likely to flood. Earlier generations did not in any case have the electrical appliances, fitted carpets and possessions that would be ruined if the waters rose. The wisdom of our forefathers  was overturned in the Eighties. We now rue the result. The problem goes beyond such obvious planning mistakes.

Every time we build a new housing estate, a new road or even concrete over a front garden to provide a parking space, we put a hard surface in place of soil. Water would have soaked into the soil. Tarmac sends it straight into a drain.

The nature of the new houses we build doesn’t help. They’re often crammed on to limited plots without enough room for proper gardens. Again, this removes natural soakaways.

Last year the Government introduced a new national planning framework designed to promote more development. At the same time it cut the amount of money that is being spent on maintaining rivers and watercourses.

Mother Nature is plainly trying to tell us something | Express Comment | Comment | Daily Express

Five years ago, proposals were put to build on AONB land to the north of  Woolbrook: and concerns were voiced at the time about the effect of building on fields at the top of the town.

This is from an earlier blog entry:

Discussion at Sidmouth Town Council's planning committee included the issue of potential flooding:

Concern was expressed regarding run off of water. A tanked storage system and attenuation pond would ensure that flood risk is not increased

Since then, fears that the development at Woolbrook would create more flooding seem to have been realised:
Sidmouth flooding latest - Weather - Sidmouth Herald 7 July 2012
Flood report reveals bid to better understand River Sid - News - Sidmouth Herald 19 Dec 2012

Futures Forum: Persimmon, Sidmouth and "promoting well-designed housing that is sustainable and provides much-needed new housing..."

There are 'natural' soakaways... and attenuation tanks, as being tussled over at Feniton:
Susie Bond | Independent District Councillor for Feniton and Buckerell ward, EDDC
Feniton faces “very real threat” of flooding without rapid change | Exeter Express and Echo
Feniton developer asks to move drainage tanks to make way for even more houses in flood beset village | Exeter Express and Echo
Developer moves in on more new homes - Axminster Today.

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