Agenda and minutes

Kent Flood Risk Management Committee - Wednesday, 24th November, 2021 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber, Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone. View directions

Contact: Andrew Tait  03000 416749


No. Item


Minutes of the meeting on 8 July 2021. pdf icon PDF 231 KB

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RESOLVED that the Minutes of the meeting held on 8 July 2021 are correctly recorded and that they be signed by the Chairman.


Kent Flood Action Group Forum - Presentation by David Goff, Chairman of Collier Street Parish Council

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(1)          Mr David Goff, Chairman of Collier Street PC said that the purpose of the Kent Flood Action Group Forum (KFAGF) was to help communities to be better prepared before, during and after flooding.  It was accepted that, in general terms, a lot of protection measures had been put in place, although they could not completely prevent flooding from occurring.   It was, nevertheless, very important that people were given confidence in response to the heavy rainfall that was often experienced. 


(2)          Mr Goff then said that the KFAGF wished to work with all the agencies involved in flood risk management at a strategic level to promote effective communication, collaboration, whilst working with other Flood Action Groups to ensure that collective knowledge and experiences could be shared and developed. 


(3)          Mr Goff continued by saying that water did not respect any boundaries.  The KFAGF wished to provide clarity to their communities on the roles and responsibilities of the various flood risk management authorities and to ensure that it was informed of all flood risk activities in their local areas.  It also wished to maximise opportunities to influence flood risk management strategies, by utilising their local knowledge. 


(4)       The KFAGF understood that flood risk management authorities often operated under significant resource pressure, but believed that by working together, benefits could be achieved and developed.


(5)       Mr Goff said that Climate Change was very unlikely to cease to be a factor and that collaborative working was at the forefront of the KFGAF’s thinking.


(6)       The thinking behind the formation of the KFAGF had arisen following a contribution from Bob Hadden who was a Trustee of the National Flood Forum.   It had been noted that there were many Action Groups who worked in isolation and it was understand that working together would lead to a deeper and more professional approach, saving both time and resources.  Similar Flood Action Group Forums had also been set up in West Sussex and Cornwall.  The idea had been taken to the National Flood Board in April 2020 and approval had been given to run pilot schemes in Kent and Shropshire.


(7)       Mr Goff said that with the support of the Kent Flood Manager, Max Tant, good progress had been made despite the pandemic.  The KFAGF consisted of people from Flood Groups across the County (Ightham, East Peckham, Hildenborough, Headcorn, Tunbridge Wells and Collier Street).  The first meeting had taken place virtually in November 2020, and no physical meeting had yet taken place.


(8)       Mr Goff then said that despite the different forms of flooding issues faced in the six constituent areas, areas of commonality had been identified and taken forward.  The most important of these was riparian ownership, which provided perhaps the biggest challenge to rural areas in Kent.  The existing system was failing and deteriorating year on year.  There appeared to be a reluctance by the risk management authorities to address this issue. For example, Collier Street PC had written to a number of people in the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.


Southern Water future plans - Presentation

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(1)          Mr David Murphy (Southern Water DWMP Programme Manager) gave a presentation on Drainage and Wastewater Management Plans (DWMPs), the slides of which can be found on the KCC webpage for this meeting.


(2)       Mr Murphy began his presentation by saying that the purpose of DWMPs was to ensure that Southern Water’s drainage and wastewater management was fit for the future and that the necessary resources were provided to cater for present and future demand, taking account of factors such as growth and climate change.


(3)       Mr Murphy said that DWMPs were new plans which had been developed by Water UK, an industry body that all water companies worked with. Water UK had formed a group consisting of experts and water company representatives to develop a framework for long term planning over the next 25 years.  A similar statutory planning framework was already in place for water resources, and the government had considered that it was necessary to develop one for drainage and wastewater.   Drainage Area Plans and Surface Water Management Plans had already been developed by individual water companies but the significance of the DWMPs was that all the plans would now be developed in the same way.


(4)       Mr Murphy continued that the benefits of the new DWMPs were that they could identify future risk in terms of flooding and pollution which would be shared with the customers.  They would also identify investment needs to build resilience.  They would support the applications for funding which were submitted to Ofwat every five years.  The most important benefit was that they would enable partnership working with other organisations, particularly those with responsibility for flood and drainage management.  He praised the work of Max Tant and of the Environment Agency in supporting the various webinars and seminars that were assisting in the development of the DWMPs. 


(5)       Mr Murphy then showed a slide demonstrating the DWMP boundaries in Southern Water’s operating area (Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight). He said that the planning framework had to consider the region as a whole, as well as at a catchment scale.  There were 11 district and river-based catchment areas in the region, four of which were in Kent.   The Plan for each of these catchments had to take account of the systems in place within them, together with their performance and the impact on customers and the environment.


(6)       Mr Murphy moved on to consideration of Risks.  DWMPs were predominantly a risk-based approach to planning.  Development of the Plans began with setting the strategic context, undertaking risk-based screening, the development of a baseline risk and vulnerability assessment, and the identification of the causes of the problem. This was followed through the identification and appraisal of options. The results of this work were then put together into the DWMP for the longer term.  The process was currently at the appraisal of options stage, where the Team had to consider their feasibility before incorporating the best ones into the investment plan following  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.


Presentation on the work of the Committee by Max Tant, KCC Flood and Water Manager

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(1)          The Chairman informed the Committee that Mr Tant would not be able to provide a detailed presentation at this stage as he had only just recovered from illness.   He would, instead, be asked to briefly introduce himself.   


(2)       Mr Tant introduced himself as the Flood and Water Manager for KCC.  He said that he managed the Flood and Water Management Team which performed a number of functions around Flood Risk and Water Management.  The Team had been set up following the commencement of the Flood and Water Management Act in 2010 when KCC became the Lead Local Flood Authority for the County.  


(3)       Mr Tant then explained that KCC was the Lead Authority for Local Flooding rather than the Local Lead for Flooding.  “Local Flooding” was defined as flooding from surface water, groundwater and ordinary watercourses. 


(4)       Mr Tant continued by saying that the functions of the Lead Authority were firstly that of statutory consultees in planning for surface water in major planning applications in respect of how the proposed development intended to manage water runoff.  This meant that they gave technical advice to the planning authority.  He stressed that this did not give the Lead Local Flood Authority any decision-making powers.  A major aspect of this function was the promotion of sustainable drainage.   An explanation of how this role was carried out could be found on the KCC website. 


(5)       Another function of the Lead Local Flood Authority was to prepare a Local Strategy setting out how local flood risk was to be managed.  The current version of the Strategy would run until 2023. 


(6)       Mr Tant then said that an additional function was to investigate floods.  This could be any kind of flooding, although if another authority such as the EA was carrying out an investigation, the Lead Local Flood Authority would not seek to duplicate this work.  The KCC Flood and Water Management Team was currently investigating four flooding events (each triggered by internal flooding to five properties or more) which had occurred over the summer.


(7)       The KCC Flood and Water Management Team also had to maintain a register of structures and features which might have an impact on flood risk. 


(8)       Mr Tant said that, more broadly, the KCC Flood and Water Management Team also carried out work to help manage the risk of flooding. An example of this was the work carried out in Margate to support Southern Water in retro-fixing sustainable drainage.  Another example was working in partnership with the National Flood Forum to support communities at risk of flooding. 


(9)       The KCC Flood and Water Management Team liaised with other partner organisations such as the Environment Agency and the Internal Drainage Boards.  Mr Tant gave the example of the collaborative work undertaken with the EA on KCC’s investment in the works to improve the Leigh Flood Storage Area.


(10)     Mr Tant went on to set out work carried out in related fields such as Water Management, the promotion of sustainable  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.


Environment Agency and Met Office Alerts and Warnings and KCC severe weather response activity pdf icon PDF 165 KB

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(1)       Mr Harwood began his introduction by saying that the figures in paragraph 2.5 of the report had changed since the papers had been published.  The figure for Flood Alerts should now read 44 instead of 43. In paragraph 2.6, the figure for Met Office weather warnings was now 25 instead of 24 as a result of a new yellow warning for winds.  


(2)         Mr Harwood then said that the rainfall figures set out in paragraph 2.1 demonstrated that the summer had been extremely wet in the months of June, July and early August 2021.    It was particularly notable that the long-term monthly average rainfall in June had been 192% of the long-term monthly average for that month.  The effect of this very high level of rainfall had been seen on 12 July 2021 when the London Fire Brigade had declared a major incident for surface water flooding in the South East, including Kent.  Homes had been flooded in Bethersden, Yalding and Horsmonden as well as in Urban Maidstone, where combined water drainage systems had discharged wastewater leading to a pollution incident in the River Len. 


(3)         Mr Harwood continued by saying that the most significant surface water flooding impacts of the summer had been experienced in residential areas on the scarp of the Greensand Ridge at Ulcombe. The investigation into its causes was ongoing. 


(4)       Mr Harwood said that August had been a dry period, after which there had been rainstorms in September and October.  KCC had needed to intervene at the Stilebridge Caravan Site near Marden.  Kent Highways in response, had worked with Kent Fire and other partner agencies very effectively. 


(5)          Mr Harwood then said that KCC’s updated Emergency Plan was currently being consulted upon and would be validated through a table-top flood response training exercise (Exercise Basilea) on 6 December. This would simulate, in a Kent context, the weather conditions that had unleashed the destructive flooding in Germany and other parts of continental Europe during July.  It would take the form of a Met Office warning involving surface water flooding leading to fluvial flooding on the Medway.  


(6)       Mr Harwood concluded his introduction by saying that an exercise had been undertaken on 28 October which modelled an event impacting on the Flood Storage area at Hothfield near Ashford.  This exercise had resulted in many learning points being identified.  These included evacuation and shelter, and warning and informing.  Another exercise would be held on 10 December in Northwest Kent involving a breach of the tidal wall along the River Thames.


(7)       In response to a question from Mr Mackonochie, Mr Harwood explained that the first part of Exercise Basilea on 6 December was to involve a significant impact particularly affecting East Sussex and West Kent which would lead to surface water flooding wherever there were drainage issues.  The second part of the exercise would mainly focus on the impact on the Leigh Barrier and the Medway catchment area and its communities.  As it was predominantly a responder  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.