Agenda and minutes

Kent Flood Risk Management Committee - Monday, 16th July, 2018 2.00 pm

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

Contact: Andrew Tait  03000 416749


No. Item


Minutes of the meeting on 5 March 2018 pdf icon PDF 136 KB

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RESOLVED that the Minutes of the meeting held on 5 March 2018 are correctly recorded and that they be signed by the Chairman.


Presentation by Mark Rogers from the Met Office (Civil Contingencies) on the Met Office early severe weather warning, climate trends and their implications for flood risk pdf icon PDF 3 MB

Additional documents:


(1)          Mark Rogers from the Met Office gave a presentation. The accompanying slides are contained within the electronic agenda papers on the KCC website. 


(2)        Mr Rogers introduced himself as the Met Office Advisor for Civil Contingencies.  He worked with Category 1 and 2 Responders as defined by the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 in South East England (Kent Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Thames Valley).  


(3)       Mr Rogers said that the National Severe Weather Warning Service (NSWWS) had been set up in 1988 after the hurricane of the previous year.   Its original form had been as a threshold-based service. Warnings were issued when severe weather was expected with winds speeds reaching 70 mph or 30 mm of rainfall were anticipated.  This approach had ignored the wider impact of severe weather.  Its weakness therefore was that there was no policy differentiation between a 70mph wind speed in Scotland and South East of England despite the greater impact. 


(4)       In 2011, following a period of consultation with Emergency Responders, the NSWWS had developed an impact-based approach where the decision on whether to issue Warnings was based on the likely dangers and disruptions caused.  The UK was currently the only country in the World operating this system, although a number of countries were now considering doing so after receiving training from the Met Office. 


(5)       Mr Rogers said that the Met Office had issued Warnings for rain, wind, snow, ice and fog since the formation of the NSWWS.  Recently, they had added lightning and thunderstorms.  Warnings could now be given seven days ahead of the event.   Warnings for thunderstorms had previously been given under the “rain” heading.  By specifically warning of likely thunderstorms, the Met Office could now incorporate rain, hail, lightning and strong winds.   Warnings for lightning were also particularly important because of its impact on railways and power supplies.  


(6)       Mr Rogers continued by saying that an Impact Matrix had been introduced in 2011 to complement the new impact-based Warning system.  This enabled an accurate assessment by setting the likelihood of an impact occurring against the level of impact expected.    This enabled the allocation of a colour to the Warning (green yellow, amber or red).   The colour was, however, not all-important.   For example, if the box ticked indicated a high likelihood of a low impact event, it required different planning and response to a very low likelihood of a high impact, which would indicate potential danger to life, although a forecast was not at that stage suggesting that it was imminent.  Were it to become so, the risk could easily be upgraded to amber. An example of this had occurred during the St Jude’s Day storm in October 2013.   The Warning had initially been given when the likelihood had been very low.  The Warning had then moved up to “low” and “medium” likelihood of a high impact event.


(7)       Mr Rogers went on to show examples of how Warnings were issued.   They were placed on the Met Office website  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Presentation by the Environment Agency on future flood risks to Kent pdf icon PDF 2 MB

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(1)       Simon Curd from the Environment Agency gave a presentation. The accompanying slides are contained within the electronic agenda papers on the KCC website.


(2)       Mr Curd said that his presentation was an update on flood risk rather than an assessment of future flood risk.  He said that there were currently some 85.5k homes and businesses in Kent at risk of flooding from rivers and the sea.   These figures did not take account of the presence of flood defences.  There were currently over 9,700 flood risk assets in Kent, including defences, structures, pumping stations and culverts, which benefited 40,000 homes and businesses.


(3)       Mr Curd said that Kent had been allocated the third highest amount (£189m over the next five years) in grants to deliver capital projects to reduce flood risk in England (behind Yorkshire and Lincolnshire). Over 60% of this figure came from Flood Defence Grant (FDGiA).  Kent was a big winner for investment in Flood and Coastal Risk Erosion Management (FCRM) capital projects. The Environment Agency was a significant infrastructure provider, protecting critical infrastructure and preventing millions of pounds worth of flood damage across the county. These projects were expected to reduce flood risk and coastal erosion to more than 27,000 homes. Under the government’s partnership funding rules, however, many of these projects required external contributions in order that they could go ahead. Without these contributions, the allocated government funding would be redistributed across the country. In terms of outcome measurements, Mr Curd said these were predominantly evaluated in terms of homes protected.


(4)       Mr Curd continued by considering some of the bigger schemes in Kent. The Great Stour Flood Alleviation Scheme was currently in its early stages of development. The Environment Agency was working in Partnership with KCC and Canterbury CC to reduce the risk of flooding from the Great Stour to communities between Ashford and Fordwich, including Canterbury.  This would enable the protection of nearly 500 properties and 90 businesses. The scheme had a good cost benefit ratio but would still require a further £2.7m in partnership funding.   


(5)       Mr Curd went on to say that most of the schemes associated with the Folkestone to Cliff End Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy had now been completed.  The Lydd Ranges Scheme was the last one that needed to be completed.  Although there had been some problems and discussions in respect of this scheme, it was anticipated that a planning application would be submitted very shortly. 


(6)        Mr Curd said that the Middle Medway Flood Resilience Scheme had been developed in response to numerous flooding incidents, culminating in the floods of 2013/14.  It was installing Property Flood Resilience (PFR) measures to protect a number of houses. Phase 1 had seen the installation of PFR measures to 28 properties.   Another 281 properties had been offered the full survey in early 2018, 247 of which had taken up the offer and were having the measures installed.  The latest phase would see the scoping taking place  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Kent and Medway Offsite Reservoir Inundation Emergency Plan pdf icon PDF 85 KB

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(1)          Tony Harwood gave a presentation. The accompanying slides are contained within the electronic agenda papers on the KCC website. 


(2)       Mr Harwood said that much of the agenda for the meeting had focussed on the importance of water storage. His role as an Emergency Planner was to ensure effective contingencies in the event of things going wrong. Dams, reservoirs and other water storage facilities being cases in point. 


(3)        Mr Harwood referred to the regulations and guidance in paragraph 1.2 of the report which dictated the parameters within which such documents as the Kent and Medway Offsite Reservoir Inundation Emergency Plan had to be drawn up.  There had been some significant dam failures and disasters both internationally and in the UK; the most well-known example being the Banqiao Dam disaster in China in 1975 where 171,000 people had lost their lives and 11m had been made homeless.   In the UK, 244 people had lost their lives during the Dale Dike Reservoir disaster in Yorkshire in 1874.   More recently, there had been significant dam failures in Laos and North America.  


(4)       Most countries engaged in very detailed contingency planning for dam failures.  In Continental Europe, there were regular emergency drills in those communities that lay down river or in close proximity to dams.   Drills also took place in Asia, North America and Africa.  This contrasted with the UK where emergency planning tended to assume a lower profile. 


(5)       Mr Harwood defined a reservoir as a large raised water body. This meant that it was conceivable that water could ‘fall out’ very quickly.  There were four main types of reservoirs in Kent.  Flood storage areas such as Leigh which could currently hold 5.5m m3 of water, which would expand to 9m m3 once the works there were completed.   Water Utility reservoirs such as Bewl Bridge which could hold 31.4m m3 of water.   Amenity and landscape features such as Mote Park Lake in Maidstone which held some 200k m3 of water.  It was a reservoir that was known technically as a “Cascade” because of its relationship with another upstream reservoir.   Maidstone BC had invested £1.3m on its spillway and dam structure in order to assure its continued safety.  Another designated reservoir (at Leeds Castle) sat above Mote Park Lake, all within the River Len catchment.   


(6)       Mr Harwood moved on to consider the types of reservoir event.   The worst of these would occur as a result of the complete collapse of a dam wall, usually with very little if any warning.  The Emergency Plan needed to set out plans for immediate evacuation in these circumstances and also needed to identify which parts of the transport network would be immediately severed and which parts of the critical infrastructure could be impacted.    


(7)       Another type of event was a slow onset reservoir emergency.  This could arise out of a small leak leading to a gradual loss of water, potentially leading to a riparian fluvial flooding event downstream.   In 2013/14 the flood  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.


Environment Agency and Met Office Alerts and Warnings and KCC flood response activity since the last meeting pdf icon PDF 89 KB

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(1)          Mr Harwood introduced the report. He said that the Spring had been very wet with the Long Term Average of rainfall in Kent during March, April and May 2018 being 153% of the average annual figure for this period.  The month of June, however had seen a mere 10% of the average annual figure for that month.   July had started with a similar dearth of rainfall.


(2)       Mr Harwood continued by saying that the heavy rainfall in the Spring had been particularly beneficial in terms of groundwater and reservoir recharge.  The summer drought had, however, dried up streams and ponds whilst many crops were shrivelling in the fields. It had established the conditions for recent grassland and moorland fires.


(3)       Mr Harwood then said that there had been a few recent periods of significant heavy localised rainfall that were very difficult to plan for.  An example of this had occurred in late May between Sittingbourne and Maidstone where flash floods had brought some very serious impacts for residential areas with serious welfare consequences.  At the same time, certain nearby areas had experienced very little rainfall, if any.  In early July a Severe Weather Warning had been issued for thunderstorms.  Towns such as Maidstone had experienced very little precipitation whereas nearby on the Greensand Ridge in places such as Ulcombe and Platts Heath, huge volumes of water had fallen, the road network had become completely inundated as had a number of properties.  This was a very challenging time for local residents and responders alike.


(4)       RESOLVED that the current water resources situation and the level of warnings received since the last meeting of the Committee be noted.



Other Matters

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(1)       The Chairman explained that the County Council was moving towards paper-lite committee meetings.  Kent County Council Members and Officers were being encouraged to rely on their electronic systems rather than hard copies of the papers.  He asked those Members who wished to continue to receive papers in hard copy format to contact the Democratic Services Officer.  It was agreed that Members would be contacted before the next meeting as a reminder.


(2)       The Chairman also asked Members to let the Democratic Services Officer know if they wished to place an item on the agenda of any meeting.