Agenda and minutes

Kent Flood Risk Management Committee - Thursday, 8th July, 2021 2.00 pm

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

Contact: Andrew Tait  03000 416749


No. Item


Election of Chairman

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(1)          Mr H Rayner moved, seconded by Ms M McArthur that Mr T Hills be elected Chairman of the Committee.

            Carried unanimously


(2)       Mr Hills thereupon took the chair.


Terms of Reference of the Committee

1.1            Membership: 7 Members.  Conservative: 5, Labour:1, Liberal Democrat:1


1.2            In accordance with the Localism Act 2011 (Schedule 2), this Committee is responsible for reviewing and scrutinising the exercise by risk management authorities of flood risk management functions or coastal erosion risk management functions which may affect the local authority’s area.


1.3            This Committee is responsible for:


(a)  the preparation, monitoring and review (in conjunction with the Flood Risk Management Officer) of a strategic action plan for flood risk management in Kent, taking into account any Select Committee recommendations, the Pitt Review and relevant requirements of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010,


(b)  reporting annually (and more often if necessary) to the Scrutiny Committee and to the Cabinet Member for Planning, Highways, Transport and Waste,


(c)  reviewing and responding to any consultation on the implementation of the Pitt Review and the future development of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010,


(d)  receiving reports from the Southern Regional Flood and Coastal Committee and responding as appropriate,


(e)  the investigation of water resource management issues in Kent.


1.4            A risk management authority must comply with a request from this Committee for information and a response to a report.


1.5            The Committee may include (non-voting) persons who are not members of the authority, including representatives of District Councils, the Environment Agency and Internal Drainage Boards.


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The Committee noted its Terms of Reference.


Minutes of the meeting on 15 March 2021 pdf icon PDF 207 KB

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RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 15 March 2021 are correctly recorded and that they be signed by the Chairman.


Little Venice Country Park and Marina pdf icon PDF 113 KB

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(1)         The Chairman brought this item forward from its original point on the agenda. 


(2)       The Chairman introduced this item by saying that members of the Committee had raised the issue of flood risk at Little Venice at a previous meeting.  In response, the Chairman and officers had investigated the situation. This had taken the form of a virtual meeting with the landowner who had supplied the information which was before the Committee as part of the report.  This information set out the measures that were being taken to protect the vulnerable residents on the site. 


(3)       Mr Harwood said that there was a historic planning permission for a mobile home site at Little Venice Country Park. there had been significant flooding events at the site in recent years, most significantly in the Autumn/Winter period of 2000 which had involved a nighttime rescue by boat. This event had placed the residents and responders at risk.  Residents had needed to be rescued from their caravans due to the threat posed by the high level of water. 


(4)       Mr Harwood continued by saying that since the first event, there had been a number of precautionary evacuations, including some carried out during the previous winter. 


(5)       Mr Harwood said that the site was a permitted development and that KCC officers and partner organisations had sought to overcome the risks in the best way possible, using such measures as the on-site Emergency Plan, working closely with the site operators and residents.  There had been additional work and investment in the flotation devices which made them more operationally robust.


(6)       Mr Harwood concluded by saying that an early operational response was key to achieving safety at the site.  Arrangements for this were working very well in collaboration with the operator, enabling the responders to move the residents to a safe location during the recent events before the flood water had arrived.   Discussions had taken place with Social Care Officers in respect of the increasing levels of need as residents became more vulnerable.  Potential improvements to the layout of the site were also being actively considered. 


(7)       Mr Rayner thanked the Chairman and the Officers from KCC and its partners for their achievements up to this point. He considered that what had been achieved represented a big step forward, although there were still improvements to be made. He agreed that early intervention was key. This activity was aimed at supporting those who were older, especially those with mobility difficulties.  Many had moved to the site from social housing. Safety at the site relied heavily on the ability and willingness of Adult Social Care to fund decampment in the event of flooding.  In his view, the letting and selling of caravans ought to be much more carefully controlled. Those with the greatest mobility difficulties should be placed on the higher ground. This was particularly important as the residents who had been evacuated to a hotel had been expected to make their own arrangements to return, placing a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.


Introduction to the work of the Committee pdf icon PDF 284 KB

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(1)          The presentation slides for this item are contained in the agenda items which can be found in the electronic papers for this meeting on the KCC website.  


(2)          Mr Tony Harwood introduced his presentation on the work of the Emergency Planning and Resilience Service, which formed one of the key components of the Committee’s remit.   He said that the genesis of Flood Risk Management Committees had been the Summer Floods of 2007 which had seen very significant flooding events in the North of England, Gloucestershire.  The result had been very profound impacts on some 55k inundated properties.  There had also been some loss of life.  Following this, the Government had set up a Review led by Sir Mike Pitt, the former Chief Executive of KCC.  This Review had made 99 recommendations, including the need for an overview and scrutiny committee to be established in each upper tier local authority area. 


(3)       Mr Harwood continued by saying that flood risk management committees provided an opportunity to consider concerns of local communities as well as standing reports.  In Kent, there were representatives from many of the District Councils and Parish Councils as well as Kent Fire and Rescue. The local IDBs were also invited.  Although only KCC Members were entitled to vote, the only time that voting had ever occurred was when the Chairman of the Committee was elected. 


(4)       Administrative support to the Committee was provided by Mr Andrew Tait from KCC Democratic Services.  Specialist officer support was provided by Mr Max Tant, KCC Flood Risk Manager and by Mr Hartwood who led the Emergency Planning Team.  His role was to organise the operational response. His duties consisted of responding, planning, training, the development of emergency plans and ensuring that KCC was compliant with the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 and some 50 other legal requirements.  


(5)       Mr Harwood said that whilst as a “key risk” flooding was a very important aspect of his work, he also carried out his emergency planning role in many other areas such as off-site work on Dungeness B, ‘Top Tier’ Control of Major Accident Hazard) industrial sites, Major Accident Hazard Pipelines and larger reservoirs.  There were 60 large reservoirs in Kent or on its boundaries with other Local Authorities. A reservoir exercise was due to be held in Autumn 2021 to complement that held at Mote Park in Maidstone in 2020. 


(6)       Mr Harwood also had emergency planning operational roles such as responding to Covid-19.  Additional responsibilities were the co-ordination of post-incident site demolition, clearance, waste disposal, decontamination, testing and analysis, ensuring effective animal and plant health emergency planning and response contingencies for Notifiable and other destructive pests and pathogens such as Foot and Mouth Disease, Avian Influenza, Xylella and Ash Dieback.


(7)       The Emergency Planning role also included the production, development, maintenance and testing of Emergency Plans for Major Emergencies, Business Continuity, Recovery, Flood Response and others.  It also ensured that resilience principles were considered within infrastructure planning and delivery, local and other development  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.


Short Term Adaptation for Long Term Resilience to Climate Change - Presentation by Tom Henderson, KCC Environmental Projects pdf icon PDF 1 MB

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(1)          The slides from Mr Henderson’s presentation are contained in the electronic papers for this meeting on the KCC website.


(2)       Mr Henderson began his presentation by saying that over the previous 4 years KCC had designed and led an EU Interreg project named STAR2Cs. Its purpose was to promote climate adaptation by overcoming an implementation gap between national strategies, to adapt to climate change and to undertake local adaptations in Kent’s communities. 


(3)       Mr Henderson set out the background to climate adaptation and mitigation.   He said that climate change was occurring as evidenced by intense heat waves and flooding.  Global temperatures had risen significantly over the previous 100 years, with the last 15 years being the hottest on record.   The usual approach to climate change was to seek to mitigate it by reducing its speed and magnitude. This was clearly the most vital activity and was also the thrust of the Paris Accord where global leaders had committee to reducing temperatures to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. 


(3)       Mr Henderson went on to say that the need for adaptation was often ignored. Even if the aims of the Paris Accord were achieved, this would not prevent the cumulative impact of greenhouse gasses on the environment.   Mitigation and Adaptation needed to be carried out simultaneously. 


(4)       Mr Henderson then showed a slide giving data produced by UKCP18.   Over the coming years, summers were expected to be hotter and drier. Temperatures were projected to rise by between 2 and 3 degrees by 2040 and 5 to 6 degrees by 2080.  Average summer precipitation would reduce by between 20 and 30% by 2040n and 30 to 50% by 2080.  Winters were expected to become warmer and wetter with temperatures increasing by 1 to 2 degrees by 2040 and 3 to 4 degrees by 2080 whilst winter precipitation would rise by between 10 and 20% by 2040 and by 20 to 30% by 2080.  These figures were not, however, expected to represent a steady increase as it was predicted that temperature rises would be far more volatile with the projected simply representing the overall rise.   Meanwhile sea levels were expected to rise in London by 2m over the next 100 to 200 years even if the low emissions targets were met, which looked unlikely at present.


(5)       Mr Henderson then said that given that the effects of climate change were already being felt, and were going to increase, there was a clear need to be proactive in reducing their impacts on the natural environment, communities, and economies. The Interreg 2 Cs Member States (UK, Belgium, France and Netherlands) had developed national adaptation strategies that identified a range of actions with solid evidence bases. It was difficult to translate national priorities into local actions. The local authorities and regional agencies responsible for implementing them, however, faced challenges in engaging planners and decision-makers. There was insufficient understanding of the long-term costs and benefits of adaptation measures, and a lack of relevant tools to support decision-making  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.


Environment Agency and Met Office Alerts and Warnings and KCC severe weather response activity pdf icon PDF 141 KB

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(1)       Mr Harwood introduced his report by saying that since publication of the agenda papers, the number of Met Office weather warnings set out in paragraph 2.6 had risen to six with four yellow warnings for wind.  As a consequence, the figure in Appendix 2 should now read “four” and include the additional date of 6 July.  He pointed out that this was a highly unusual time of the year for the Met Office to need to issue such a warning.


(2)       Mr Harwood then said that there had been great fluctuations in weather patterns since the Committee had last met. April had seen a mere 8% of its normal rainfall resulting in ponds drying out and causing environmental impacts, particularly on wildlife.  May, in contrast had been very wet with 151% of the long term average of rainfall being recorded.  Most of this total had fallen on 17 May causing surface water impacts, highways flooding and other emergencies.   Drainage capacity had struggled to cope with this cloud burst.  Such instances were now becoming far more common than before.  June had experienced some 150% of average rainfall, most of which had fallen on or after 22 June.  Once again, there had been surface water impacts even in areas where drainage was normally adequate and where permeable paving was usually successful. 


(3)       Mr Harwood then referred the Committee to paragraph 2.3 of the report. He said that Kent was very reliant on groundwater and the chalk aquifer for its recharge.  The spikes of intense rainfall were impacting upon the necessary groundwater recharge. This had implications for the chalk aquifer and agriculture.  Although the reservoirs had been well replenished with surface water, groundwater recharge levels had been disappointing.  This continued the pattern for groundwater recharge experienced over the previous few years.


(4)       Mr Harwood said that significant local issues of surface water flooding had occurred in Hythe and Aylesford with impacts on highways and properties.  There had also been a lightning strike on a pumping station in Thanet.


(5)       Mr Harwood continued that the Met Office’s long term three months summary was suggesting that temperatures would be 35% hotter than average, although the chance of average temperatures was higher at 50%.  Very high spring tides were going to occur in November when high levels of storm activity often occurred.  If the two coincided, there could be a risk to life and property.     


(6)       Mr Harwood concluded by referring to Exercise Basilea on 4 November which would be based on a storm surge and coastal flooding scenario. It would test KCC’s surface water and fluvial water flooding response capability under the most extreme circumstances.


(7)       Mr Thomson said that residents of Hawkhurst experienced a great deal of surface water flooding and that this was largely attributable to inadequate drainage.  The Chairman agreed and said that Southern Water often had to cope with Victorian drainage infrastructure.   Drainage maintenance was therefore a major priority which was carried out by KCC’s Drainage Team led by  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.