Agenda and minutes

Kent Flood Risk Management Committee - Monday, 11th November, 2019 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 22 July 2019 pdf icon PDF 247 KB

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RESOLVED that subject to Mr McGregor being recorded as the representative of Sevenoaks DC rather than as a substitute, the Minutes of the meeting held on 22 July 2019 are correctly recorded and that they be signed by the Chairman.


Dates of future meetings

Monday, 9 March 2020

Monday, 6 July 2020

Monday, 23 November 2020

Monday, 8 March 2021


All meetings will start at 2.00 pm.

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The Committee noted the following future meeting dates:-


Monday, 9 March 2020;

Monday, 6 July 2020;

Monday, 23 November 2020; and

Monday, 8 March 2021. This date was subsequently changed to Monday, 15 March 2021


Water Sustainability and Farmer Co-ordination - Presentation by Tom Ormesher, NFU Environment and Land Use Adviser pdf icon PDF 2 MB

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(1)       Mr Tom Ormesher from the NFU (SE England)  gave a presentation. The accompanying slides are contained within the electronic papers on the KCC website.


(2)       Mr Ormesher said that membership of the NFU in Kent was in the region of 1,500 out of some 46,000 in England and Wales.  It was the biggest farming organisation in the UK.   Mr Ormesher was also the NFU’s representative on the Medway Flood Action Plan Group and the Kent Water Task Group.  The scope of his presentation would encompass flooding, water quality and water resources, outlining how the NFU could help co-ordinate responses at a farmer level.


(3)       Mr Ormesher said that he had just completed an 18-month Nuffield Farming Scholarship. This had included visits to the USA where he had interviewed some 200 people including farmers, farming organisations, and financial institutions.  This experience would inform his presentation.


(4)       Mr Ormesher set the scene by saying that Kent was an extremely important area for fruit and vegetable production and farming in general.  Some 80% of apples and pears in the UK were produced in Kent together with two thirds of its berries.  Kentish fruit and vegetables production was, therefore, the single most important contributor to the regional agricultural economy.  The accompanying slide showed the highest value Grade 1 and 2 agricultural land within the South East Region, including the North Kent Coast and the most south westerly parts of the County, equating to some 15% of the national resource.  Significantly, all these areas were within the Flood Plain.


(5)       Mr Ormesher moved on to explain that farming policy would be changing over the next five to seven years.  The UK would be removing itself from the EU Common Agricultural Policy’s system of area-based support to one of “public money for public good” which was more environmentally focussed on clean air and clean water. There would be greater emphasis on whole farm plans and third-party audits and assessment. The Government would probably adopt a more arms-length approach.   This would require a local co-ordinated framework for sustainable development which achieved the right balance between sustainable business and environmental delivery. 


(6)       Mr Ormesher then quoted from the 2018 UK Committee on Climate Change’s report which stated that there needed to be a 700% increase in the volume of water for irrigation by the 2050s in order to maintain present day levels of potato production.   The accompanying slide highlighted the problem by identifying the large number of areas in England and Wales where no water was available.  This represented a great co-ordinating challenge.  At a national level, farming used 1% of the total water resource.  The irrigated area within the UK had contracted by 40% during the first decade of the 21st century. 


(7)       Mr Ormesher then said that water quality was also a significant issue.  Progress was being made towards the goal of creating a healthy clean water environment.  The agricultural industry had played an important role by achieving a 35% reduction in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.


Winter Preparedness - Presentation by Earl Bourner, Asset Manager, Drainage, Structures and Safety Barriers pdf icon PDF 793 KB

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(1)       Mr Earl Bourner (KCC Asset Manager, Drainage, Structures and Safety Barriers) gave a presentation. The accompanying slides are contained within the electronic papers on the KCC website.


(2)       Mr Bourner opened his presentation by discussing the major impact of Climate Change.  The Winters were likely to be 2C warmer, leading to an extra 14 inches of rain which increased the risk of flooding from storms, resulting in damage to properties, businesses and infrastructure, particularly in threatening coastal towns.  Another impact of Climate Change was the variability of extreme events. The last two extreme rainfall events had not taken place in Winter but in May 2018 and June 2019.  On both occasions, these events had occurred completely unexpectedly. 


(3)       Mr Bourner continued by saying that the Environment Agency had recorded the rainfall in Snodland in June 2019 as a 1 in 256-year flood event.  Drainage systems were not designed to cope with this amount of rainfall which equated to nearly 2 months of rain in 1½  hours.  The residents had not previously experienced any flooding for over 50 years.


(4)       Mr Bourner then addressed the question of what KCC could do to help. It was able to help residents by assisting to clear water and protect property where practically possible as the event was happening, and also after the event as part of the clear up operation in ensuring that the highway drainage asset was cleansed.  It could respond to questions and complaints from residents who wanted to know why their houses were flooding.  It investigated the drainage systems, carried out CCTV surveys, undertook root cutting, jetted the systems, cleansed the soakaways and did flood testing. It kept the highway users safe. 


(5)       Mr Bourner then provided figures to demonstrate reactive cleansing carried out since April 2019.  KCC had undertaken 4267 cleansing jobs following customer enquiries, dealt with 337 emergencies, carried out 353 CCTV surveys, cleansed 69 soakaways (at a cost of £5 – 6K each) and undertaken 321 repairs and 111 schemes.


(6)       Mr Bourner said that KCC had changed its approach to cleansing.  It now carried out pre-inspections of over 90,000 gullies on main roads in order to establish if cleansing was required.   Known flooding hot spots were cleansed twice a year on some 300 roads.  This often involved simply clearing away leaves. 


(7)       KCC had increased its budget for capital works from £3m to £5m per year to update, replace or install new drainage systems.  The number of highways engineers had doubled and KCC could roll over its capital monies into the next financial year, enabling it to design very complicated drainage systems one year and install it the next.   KCC spent £2.5m per year on drainage cleansing.


(8)       Another important part of KCC’s work was supporting multi-agency Flood Forums. These were attended by KCC Flood and Water Management Team, Highways, the Environment Agency and water companies.  They took place in communities which had been affected by flooding and played a crucial part in supporting as  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.


Drainage and Wastewater Management Plans - Presentation by Max Tant pdf icon PDF 264 KB

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(1)       Mr Tant gave a presentation.  The accompanying slides are contained within the electronic papers on the KCC website.


(2)       Mr Tant said that the water companies were now required under their latest business plan to prepare Drainage and Wastewater Management Plans during their next Asset Management cycles.    “Drainage” referred to the system of pipes and drainage stations that drained water in a sewage undertaker’s area of control. “Wastewater” referred to the plant and process that happened at the Wastewater Treatment Work up to the point where the wastewater was discharged into the environment. 


(3)       Mr Tant continued that all planning for drainage and wastewater, including replacement and upgrade of pipes, pumping station overhauls, and refurbishment of Wastewater Treatment Works was made on a 5-year statutory business planning cycle.   These Plans were submitted for approval to OFWAT and the EA.  There were, however, many challenges. The long-term capacity for new development needed to be understood and catered for, the implications of Climate Change needed to be assessed, together with discharges into the natural environment.   Furthermore, due to their 5-year nature, these Plans did not provide certainty to Local Authorities when they planned for housing and industrial development.


(4)       The water industry had an obligation to produce 25-year plans for water resources, but no corresponding duty for drainage and wastewater.  The Government, National Infrastructure Commission and Environment Agency had all strongly urged the water industry to provide more long-term plans.   In response, the water industry had brought together many organisations with responsibilities for different aspects of drainage and flooding in order to produce a new framework for long term drainage and wastewater planning.  This Framework had been published in Summer 2019 and had now been built into the business plans of every water company in England and Wales.  It was expected that this process would become statutory in the future.


(5)       Mr Tant then said that Drainage and Wastewater Management Plans were undertaken over three levels.  Level 3 was the most local, considering the catchment of Wastewater Treatment Works, including the network areas that supplied it.  This could also include surface water.   Level 2 involved the aggregation of Level 3 units into a larger unit such as a river basin.  Level 1 was for the whole of the water company’s sewerage area.  Dividing the Drainage and Wastewater Management Plans into these three levels enabled different authorities to engage with the water companies at whichever level was the most appropriate. 


(6)       Mr Tant went on to describe the Drainage and Waste Management Plan process, which all of the Level 3 catchments were part of.  This process was divided into four tiers, the first of which was risk-based screening in terms of 23 published set criteria, all of which had to be met.   The second tier was the baseline risk assessment and vulnerability assessment which involved a more comprehensive investigation of the issues, usually involving some form of modelling.  The next tiers were problem characterisation and options development.  


(7)       Mr Tant said that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.


Kent Emergency Planning - Presentation by Tony Harwood and Lisa Guthrie pdf icon PDF 6 MB

Additional documents:


(1)          Mr Tony Harwood (KCC Resilience and Emergency Planning Manager) and Ms Lisa Guthrie (KCC Kent Resilience Team Manager) gave a joint presentation.  The accompanying slides are contained within the electronic papers on the KCC website.


(2)          Mr Harwood began his part of the presentation by saying that his role within Emergency Planning related to ensuring the County Council’s legal and regulatory compliance with emergency planning and response duties and optimising the resilience of KCC services.  The Strategic HQ Emergency Planning Team that he managed was small but dedicated.  It planned for and responded to a wide range of threats and incidents. 


(3)          Mr Harwood explained that the overarching legislation to which his Team worked was the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 which placed a duty on the Local Authority and other partners to put in place appropriate Emergency Plans and to undertake business continuity planning for both the Authority itself as well as supporting the resilience of the private and voluntary sectors. This legislation included warning and informing the general public.  A significant element of the Team’s role involved day-to-day activities in response to emergencies. 


(4)          Mr Harwood then showed a slide showing a breakdown of the type of calls registered on the Duty Emergency Planning Officer logging system.   This showed that the largest portion of calls received related to coastal and fluvial flooding events. It also showed a whole range of responses to events such as electricity outages, pollution incidents and road traffic incidents.  Some 215 Alerts had been received since 1 April 2019.   This equated to roughly 1 alert each day. 


(5)          Kent’s emergency planning profile was partly dictated by the County’s geographical location.  Kent could be described as a “Front Line County” strongly influenced by its proximity to continental Europe as exemplified by its vulnerability to major events such as those experienced during the 2nd World War, the Herald of Free Enterprise tragedy and latterly EU withdrawal planning.  The Herald of Free Enterprise had capsized in Belgian waters in March 1987, but its impact on the County’s communities, particularly in East Kent had been of such magnitude that an IT tracking database had needed to be built up from scratch and a dedicated KCC established in order to respond to the event in all its traumatic complexity. 


(6)          Mr Harwood said that effective planning for emergencies was crucial.  These plans were living documents, needing to be refined and updated in the light of a rapidly changing world and experience.  Some 14 KCC emergency plans were currently in operation. Most of these were generic, whilst others (such as the plans for major accident hazards, gas pipelines, major industrial sites and for radiation incidents) were specific and highly detailed.  The generic emergency plans contained a command and control model which could be implemented no matter what the nature of the event that was being responded to.


(7)          Mr Harwood continued by saying that business continuity planning was another essential aspect of his team’s work.  Business continuity plans played  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.


Environment Agency and Met Office Alerts and Warnings and KCC severe weather response activity since the last meeting pdf icon PDF 327 KB

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(1)       Mr Harwood introduced the report. He informed the Committee that since publication of the papers there had been an additional 5 flood alerts issued by the Environment Agency, giving a total of 47 flood alerts and 5 warnings (9 fluvial and 43 coastal) since the last meeting (paragraph 2.4).   The overall figure of 52 alerts and warnings contrasted dramatically with the figure of 4 alerts for the same period in 2018.


(2)       Mr Harwood also updated the number of Met Office severe weather warnings in paragraph 2.5 to 24 (16 for rain and 4 for thunderstorms).


(3)       Mr Harwood then corrected the dates in paragraph 2.8 of the report by saying that the Environment Agency’s Incident Room had operated from Sunday, 29 September through to Wednesday, 2 October.  


(4)       Mr Harwood said that an extremely intense rainfall event had taken place, on Friday, 8 November in the Folkestone area leading to property flooding. The response to this event had involved unblocking gullies and intervening to support vulnerable residents. The recovery and de-brief phases were now in operation.


(5)       The relatively dry summer of 2019 had been followed by a damp October and early November.  It was still unclear whether groundwater and river recharge measures would need to be taken, as further intense rainfall was still needed in order to improve the water resource position.


(6)       RESOLVED that the warnings received since the last meeting of the Committee be noted.