(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 water use. They worked with water companies and farmers to seek to reduce water consumption. They worked with the South East Rivers Trust to encourage farmers to collect water that fell on polytunnels and use it for irrigation. More recently, the KCC Flood and Water Management Team had been involved in some water quality issues such as seeking to deliver nutrient neutrality in the Stour catchment.
(11) The Chairman said that he would like Mr Tant to provide a more detailed presentation to the Committee at a future meeting.
(12) Mr Hood said that he understood that KCC relied on the EA to provide its map or surface water flooding and that the next version was due to be finalised in 2026. Although the actual footprint was unlikely to change significantly, the categorisation of the likelihood of flooding events occurring was going to be revised in a number of cases due to climate change and the increased prevalence of flash flooding. He believed that areas where the possibility of development was currently marginal would become less so as a result. He then asked about the process of initiating an investigation.
(13) In response to Mr Hood’s question, Mr Tant clarified that a flood investigation sought to clarify what had actually taken place, including the cause and responsible persons or organisation. It was not an ion-depth organisation that aimed to establish the answer to questions such as the nature of the hydraulic system. The Team relied on being notified by the public of any incident that should be investigated.
(14) In response to a question from Mr Sole, the Chairman said that Mr Earl Bourner from KCC Highways reported once a year to the Committee on drainage and blocked gullies. This would be the best forum to ask questions on this subject as Mr Tant’s Team did not have responsibility for this particular issue. The Minutes from Mr Bourner’s previous presentations were available on the KCC website. He hoped that Mr Bourner would be available in March.
(15) RESOLVED that Mr Tant be thanked for his introduction and that a more detailed presentation be provided to a future meeting of the Committee.