Agenda and minutes
Venue: Virtual Meeting - Online access
Contact: Fatima Rehman 01628 796251
Video Stream: Click here to watch this meeting on YouTube
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
To receive any apologies for absence.
Apologies were received from Mike Williams, Ian Thompson and Malcolm Beer.
To confirm the minutes of the previous meeting.
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That the minutes of the meeting held on 23 January 2020 be approved.
ACTIONS ARISING FROM PREVIOUS MINUTES
To confirm the actions from the previous minutes.
(Duncan Parker, Horton flood representative, joined the meeting.)
River Thames Scheme
To receive an update on the River Thames Scheme.
The Chairman introduced the item and said the River Thames Schemes’ sponsoring group decided to progress with the scheme without Channel 1 from Datchet and Bells Weir on 31 July 2020.
David Bedlington, Environment Agency, said the Treasury required the Borough to demonstrate that the funding for the scheme was in place; without this commitment, the scheme could not be progressed. A sponsor meeting took place on 31 July to decide whether the scheme should be delayed to address all the funding issues, or progress the scheme with the secured funding for Channels 2 and 3. It was agreed to move forward with Channels 2 and 3, which the EA would undertake as the delivery body on behalf of the sponsor group.
The delivery of the scheme and construction work would start four years from now, and the net impact of Channels 2 and 3 in Surrey would be positive for the Borough, though not as positive if the full scheme was executed. Channels 2 and 3 would draw down levels in the River Thames, though the benefits diminished upstream.
(Councillor Clark joined the meeting.)
A commitment was made in the sponsor meeting for all bodies to support and work together on flood risk reduction in the Borough, even though this was not part of the channel solutions.
Councillor C Da Costa asked if there was any negative effect to the Borough without Channel 1. The Group was informed that there were no negative effects and RBWM would continue to receive some benefits. The benefits were larger closer to Channel 2 and reduced further upstream. Councillor Baldwin said that despite Channel 1 no longer being part of the business case, work was continued with the sponsor group to look at remedial measures in flood reduction in the Borough. He wanted to know what the measures would be. The Group was informed that there was a commitment from the Borough and EA to work together and find alternatives to reducing flood risk.
Councillor da Costa said he understood one of the reasons for Channel 1 not progressing was due to the lack of funding, and wanted to know if the Borough was awaiting to lobby the government to provide a mechanism to raise funding to pay for the scheme.
The Chairman said a decision was made by Full Council in 2017 to agree to commit to fund £53 million for Channel 1. £10 million was funded from the budget and the remaining £43 million would have been borrowed, subject to a national flood levy being placed on the Borough. This meant that the residents were to fund for the repayments of the loan. The legislation was not introduced by the government despite intense lobbying since 2017 and in recent months. Without this, the Section 151 officer was unable to allow a loan of £43 million, as there were no means to repay the loan and therefore the Borough was unable to fund the scheme via this route and the sponsor group ... view the full minutes text for item 130.
UPDATE FROM THE ENVIRONMENT AGENCY
To receive the above verbal update.
Brianne Vally, Environment Agency, reported the following:
· Water situation report summary – July 2020
o Thames Area received 95% of the Long-Term Average rainfall for July. Soils remained drier than expected for the fifth consecutive month. Monthly mean river flows were mixed across the Thames area, the majority were normal for the time of year. The groundwater levels continued their seasonal decline at all indicator sites, but most of them remained normal for the time of year.
· Recent publications:
o The Defra flood policy statement set out a package of measures to protect and prepare the country for long-term flood and coastal erosion risk.
o The Environment Agency Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) Strategy for England.
The link for The Defra flood policy statement was https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/flood-and-coastal-erosion-risk-management-policy-statement.
The link for Environment Agency Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) Strategy for England was https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-flood-and-coastal-erosion-risk-management-strategy-for-england--2.
The Chairman asked if the water table was as expected, despite the heat experienced at the end of July. The Members were informed that the soil was drier than expected for the fifth consecutive month and the ground water continued to decline, but there was no indication of a drought-like situation.
Councillor Brar said the Parish Councils did not receive documentations and maps from the EA, and the response from the arising actions from previous minutes section was reiterated. Martin Coker thanked Brianne for the lidar information and said some maps that were A2 were difficult to work with.
Councillor Larcombe said the quality of the new level sensing system installation at the bottom of the Jubilee River was poor, as the electrical wiring was stapled to the fence. Brianne said she was unaware of this issue and would address this with the team. The Chair advised Members to raise any operational issues with the Environment Agency incident service and this was seconded by the EA.
ACTION: Brianne Vally to update on the development of the installation quality at Jubilee River and update at the next meeting.
UPDATE FROM THAMES WATER
To receive the above verbal update.
Denise Kinsella, Thames Water, reported the following:
· It was a wet winter in 2019/20, though this did not have a significant impact to the Borough apart from Waltham St Lawrence. The Thames Water’s sewage pumping station was flooded by overland flow of surface water, which resultantly impacted the residents in the area. To protect the station from future surface water, a wall was built, there was a change in pump times, and a sump pump was installed so that sewage could be removed to the ditch system.
· Thames Water continued with its normal operational activities of planned maintenance cleaning and ‘bin it, don’t block it’ messages which continued due to an increase in blockages from incorrect items being placed down the sewer.
On behalf of Malcom Beer, the Chairman asked Denise to engage with Malcolm Beer offline regarding his query on Ham Islands’ sewage work, which was outside the remit of the Group. Denise agreed to this and said regular meeting were undertaken regarding Ham Islands.
Councillor Brar asked if an update was available on the pump run times at Lightlands Lane, and the Group was informed that the flood defence was extended and the surface water soakaway was improved so that water went into the wet well to protect the site.
UPDATE FROM RBWM
To receive the above verbal update.
Carolyn Richardson, Joint Emergency Planning Manager, reported the following:
· The Cookham Causeway Plan, which needed to be shared with Mohammed Mamun, Senior Flood Risk Consultant, would be shared with the Group.
· New members of staff were due to join the flood warden community in September, who would be familiarised to the area should flooding occurred.
Martin Coker asked for information on the depth boards located adjacent to The Pound. Carolyn said this was checked in the winter period and the team would be notified and the Martin would be updated. Martin said the positioning of the depth boards needed to be reviewed because the board could not be seen from the road due to overgrown foliage. The Flood Committee at Cookham was trying to contact causeway management to arrange training for volunteers.
ACTION: Carolyn Richardson to report back to Cookham Parish Council regarding the depth boards.
ACTION: Carolyn Richardson to consider training considering social distancing limitations.
Martin Coker asked if issues could be directly risen with Mohammed and the Group was advised to direct enquiries to the RBWM Highways inbox, and the query would then be forwarded to the appropriate person.
Mohammed Mamun reported the following:
· Wraysbury Drain:
o As a short-term solution, the weir height could be raised by approximately 10mm. The water levels at different locations would be monitored to ascertain the impact of the weir height adjustment.
o Letters were sent to riparian landowners asking to fulfil their riparian responsibilities as a result of blockages in the drain near Feathers Lane. An inspection, some minor tree clearances and other works may be carried out.
· Revision of the Local Flood Risk Management Strategy (LFRMS) had been carried out, which identified short- and long-term action plans. Consultation would be arranged before adoption.
· The existing telemetry system that were not functioning had been reviewed, and research had been carried out to identify different measures that could be implemented. Suppliers wanted to undertake a site visit prior to finalising a quote, which was not possible due to COVID-19. Site visits were now in the process of taking place.
The Chairman asked if the telemetry was regarding the RBWM River Thames telemetry and the Members were informed that the telemetry was in the Borough and not on the river. Sue Fox, Principal Commissioning Officer, said the telemetry system was mainly on ordinary watercourses and ditches. VolkerHighways had an enhanced inspection regime on the watercourses that took place when rainfall was anticipated, with a check before, during and after rainfall.
Councillor Larcombe said the gravel from the bridge installed near the Dive Centre needed to be unblocked to allow the water to flow, rather than changing the weir at the Wraysbury Drain. He said the issues arose due to over thirty years of a lack of maintenance of the drain. He said it was positive there was progress on the issues in Feather’s Lane, because the concrete blockage was there for over a year, which he had reported last ... view the full minutes text for item 133.
UPDATE FROM THE PARISH COUNCILS
To receive the above verbal update.
Councillor Larcombe asked for a copy of the barrel arch inspection report and CCTV images. The Chairman said this was not a Parish Council matter and was the responsibility of the Borough, which would be dealt with structural engineers. Councillor Larcombe said it was important for the village residents to know what was in the barrel arch as they paid for the inspection and the barrel arch ran under the centre of the village. The Chairman said it was a live matter and would be dealt with the Borough and structural engineers.
Councillor Larcombe asked for progress information on the flat valve near Datchet, and Members were informed that this was being reviewed. Sue Fox said that as a result of the decision undertaken regarding River Thames Scheme, the Borough and EA were looking at alternative flood management in the local area. The Chairman said the flat valve was regarding the main river works rather than the in-land channel, which would not be impacted by the River Thames Scheme decision, and therefore could be progressed.
Councillor Larcombe addressed the failure of the maintenance of the land drainage infrastructure and requested for the £10 million available to invest in this area. The Chairman said the budget was assigned for Channel 1’s flood defences in the River Thames Scheme and the use of the £10 million was a matter for the Council. The available money from the EA could be used for infrastructure projects to defend residents.
The Chairman wanted to open a discussion on Battlemead with the Forum, which would be added to the next agenda as an item for a formal discussion.
Councillor Brar said the amended Battlemead Plan that was introduced on 20 July 2020 did not ensure that Cookham did not have an increased flood risk. The Council was committed to increasing biodiversity as part of the Environment and Climate Strategy, which included nationally designated areas for conservation actions like the Priority Flood Plain Grazing Marsh in the East Field. Dividing the habitats would harm the wildlife through habitat fragmentation. She said the Battlemead Plan must increase biodiversity whilst assessing the flood risk to ensure it was not increased in Cookham.
Councillor Stimson said the plan would not increase the flood risk, which was rendered with Aston Foot Ecology involved. The Battlemead Plan was paused because Friends of Battlemead were not consulted and that was a mistake. The Borough bought the land for £1 million for both access and biodiversity and an ecologist from Austin Foot was asked how accessibility could be achieved without threatening the biodiversity. The response was launched as a plan for Battlemead, which received a backlash and therefore was put on hold. There was a plan to set a meeting with the Friends of Battlemead in mid-September to discuss this issue, who would consult their own ecologist to tackle the question of accessibility and biodiversity.
Councillor Brar asked for the plan to incorporate an assurance that there would not be an increased ... view the full minutes text for item 134.