Our last Flood Forum update posted here on 18 March was based on an article The Cranleigh Society were asked to provide by the Surrey Advertiser – but it was not published.
The Society was then asked to expand on other real problems being faced by Cranleigh; we obliged by sending the content for a second article and that, also, was not published.
Both articles were 100% factual, so we can only conclude that the Surrey Advertiser did not wish to be controversial.
Pressure can still be put on Waverley…
As mentioned in the website posting on 18 March, AC drinking water pipes and the Thakeham site were the main concerns expressed at the Flood Forum but the bigger picture also needs to be considered. There is a general concern for the number of sites where there are flood issues and/or an over reliance on Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS).
More and more Cranleigh residents are complaining about the ever increasing numbers of grab trucks and other contractor’s vehicles thundering through the High Street. These are causing havoc in the B-roads and narrow lanes, and it is going to get immeasurably worse as the building work intensifies.
These heavy vehicles are causing new potholes to appear daily in the High Street, and cars are being forced up on to paths to avoid wheel and tyre damage.
But Waverley and Surrey County Council do not care.
There are other major problems as well:
- Waverley has pushed 48% of all the new housing in the Local Plan on to sites in and around Cranleigh
- In doing so, they have ignored infrastructure issues.
The Society accepts there is nothing that can be done about the first point. Those planning applications have all received permission, but pressure can still be put on Waverley as regards the infrastructure issues where Cranleigh Civic Society believe Waverley are vulnerable. These are:
1. Flood risk.
2. Asbestos cement pipes.
3. Cranleigh Waters pollution.
Of course, everyone is concerned about roads and bridges too, but these are the responsibility of Surrey County Council, not Waverley.
Naturally prone to flooding…
There is an interesting story emerging about flood risk to which there appears to be no solution, solely because of the actions of Waverley and the inaction of the Environment Agency.
This whole sorry saga began in November 2015 when the owner of the Knowle Park Initiative site dredged a section of Cranleigh Waters, not realising that they needed a permit to do so from the Environment Agency which, incidentally would have been refused.
On site, their contractor told the Society that this was done to “move the flood risk downstream”. The effect of this dredging was to move the flood risk from the KPI site to the area just before the bridge at Elmbridge Road, which at the time was fine as it was just meadowland. The problem is that Thakeham Homes bought the site and, on 5 October 2017, they were granted permission to build 54 houses on it.
KPI knew what would happen by doing this dredging, as it is on their website! They knew that the Thakeham site is “part of the functional flood plain of Cranleigh Waters and is naturally prone to flooding”.
They went on to state; “The main thing is to make sure the drainage and water courses are kept clear (a clear reference here to dredging) to allow these areas (the Thakeham site) to take the water quickly”.
The Thakeham site had serious flooding in December 2013, two years before the dredging – there is now the very real possibility of much higher flood levels, a matter that was totally ignored by Waverley when raised by Cranleigh Civic Society when the application was heard. The Society has a photo of the December 2013 flood level being higher than the site SuDS level, and we know from Met Office Data that they are predicting +30% rainfall during winter months up to 2080. So that is why the Thakeham site is liable to flood.
Reducing, not removing the flood risk…
On 16 March, the Society heard from Surrey Wildlife Trust that the bulk of the funding announced at Anne Milton’s 9th March village meeting is to be spent putting the KPI stretch of Cranleigh Waters back to a two stage river. People may well ask why KPI themselves are not required to bear the cost of the reinstatement to a two stage river – the answer is that the Environment Agency did not act within the time limit of six months from the date of the illegal act, even though Cranleigh Civic Society advised them in January 2016 and the EA visited the site on 29 March 2016. So it appears that public money is now going to be spent correcting the damage done by the KPI dredging!
Was there pressure being put on the Environment Agency to let the KPI planning application go through to help meet Government housing targets? It wasn’t until after the six months statute of limitations period that this all came to light, and the Environment Agency admitted their failure to act.
The problem is that if the KPI stretch of Cranleigh Waters is reinstated to two stage, it reduces (not removes) the flood risk at the Thakeham site and puts a flood risk back onto the KPI site.
What an awful mess – a mess that was totally avoidable if planning was considered on all the facts, good and bad, and not on just chasing housing numbers.
The Society envisages decades of flooding incidents, insurance problems and law suits.
Please help raise awareness by sharing our news updates where you can.
As always please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any relevant information regarding this article.
CRANLEIGH FLOOD FORUM NEWS UPDATE, 18 MARCH 2018
Many of you attended the third Cranleigh Flood Forum on 9 March, hosted by Anne Milton MP, when discussions continued on sewer and surface water pipe misconnections, concerns about the sewage treatment works and Cranleigh Waters, questionable planning decisions by the Joint Planning Committee (JPC) of Waverley Borough Council and other matters.
However the asbestos cement (AC) drinking water pipes and the very controversial approval of the Thakeham homes site in Elmbridge Road dominated the meeting.
We, Cranleigh Civic Society, reported that, just the previous day, we had a high level meeting with a leading Insurer to discuss the insurance implications of both these very real concerns.
This Insurer confirmed what we had heard from a leading Insurer of County, Borough and Town/Parish Councils – this is that, except for a few specialist schemes, all UK Public and Products Liability policies have a total asbestos exclusion. This follows the inhaled asbestos disaster, where claims are still being made, and which is reported to have cost Insurers worldwide $100 billion – and which nearly brought Lloyd’s of London to it’s knees in the 1990s.
So, at the meeting, the we urged Waverley and Thames Water to check their own policies as, if they have no asbestos cover, and asbestos fibres in eroding and bursting drinking water pipes (which make up 29.6% of Cranleigh’s pipes) do lead to ingested asbestos fibre health problems, they could well have to finance both the claims and legal costs out of their own fund – for decades.
Of course, Cranleigh is not alone – this is a matter of concern and receiving attention throughout the World including Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Europe so we continue to monitor activity worldwide.
Whilst we are pleased Thames Water are starting to replace Cranleigh’s AC pipes, our aim is to seek a cessation of all connections of new housing to the drinking water system until all the AC pipes have been replaced with new, safe plastic pipes. Failure to do so would mean that, as new homes are connected to the existing system, it would result in the flow having to be increased which would lead to faster erosion and more frequent bursts.
We also discussed with the Insurer the decision by Waverley to grant permission for the building of 54 houses on a flood plain – an area which regularly floods seriously with the last occasion being as recently as December 2013.
The JPC ignored the detailed evidence submitted by us and, instead, relied on the report provided by consultants engaged and paid by the applicant, Thakeham Homes. Their representative was even allowed to sit at the planners table – very unorthodox.
Prior to the meeting on 5 October 2017, a member of the JPC submitted his flood risk evidence to the Chair of the JPC but it was ignored. That same member tried to have his evidence considered at the meeting but he was shouted down by the Chair and told to shut up.
The Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA) is Surrey County Council and the Flood Risk Management Strategy and Partnerships Team Leader (who attended the Flood Forum) confirmed to a Councillor, in an email dated 21 February 2018, that when considering building on this type of site, the planning “process is in part reliant on robust and accurate feedback from the community” but the JPC chose to ignore this guidance and the detailed evidence, including photos, submitted by Cranleigh Civic Society.
So there is the terrible prospect of families buying new homes built on a flood plain and which are highly likely to flood, with all the dire consequences, because of a seriously flawed planning decision.
When, at the meeting last week, we explained this situation to the Insurance Company it was made very clear that obtaining flood insurance on this site would be very difficult if the Insurer agrees that the evidence presented to them is sound. Top UK Insurers do not rely on the flood maps available to all on websites – they have invested in their own exceptionally detailed flood mapping, so detailed that they can have separate risk classifications for individual houses. They pay particular attention to new housing developments including local knowledge, nearby postcodes, topography and using the very latest technology.
Perhaps the unavailability of flood insurance from reputable Insurers may stop innocent families making the worst financial decision of their lives?
Anne Milton was of the view that a meeting should be arranged with Thakeham Homes, attended by all the relevant organisations, to explain the very real issues with developing this site, and undertook to put this in motion.
Needless to say we welcome this initiative by our MP but will Cranleigh Civic Society be invited? We sincerely hope so!
Love Your River!
Cranleigh Village Hall Meeting
Monday 26th March 7 till 9 pm
Following on from the recent informative Flood Forum meeting held earlier this month, we can now announce a date for Cranleigh Water’s Love Your River Meeting, which will be held on Monday 26th March at 7pm in Cranleigh Village Hall.
We highly encourage as many of our members and Cranleigh residents to attend if they are able.
Cranleigh Waters has experienced serious flow problems, particularly in the summer months and has also unfortunately become quite polluted with most of the flow downstream emanating from the Cranleigh Sewage Works.
According to Shamley Green Angling Society, the environmental effect of this can already be seen with fish dying out downstream.
Why should you attend?
This has been an ongoing problem for some time, with many issues raised.
JOIN US TO CELEBRATE THE PARTNERSHIP WORK TO IMPROVE CRANLEIGH WATERS.
We urge Cranleigh residents to attend this event to put further pressure on Waverley to make this issue a priority. Discover how you could help improve habitat and water quality. Bring your ideas and stories and get involved!
Help us ensure that Waverley takes action on:
• Reconfiguring the river bed
• Providing a wetland area upstream to release water over the summer months
• Addressing the pollution problems
Help us make improvements to our village and join us on Monday 26 March.
Please RSVP email@example.com Assistant Conservation Officer at Surrey Wildlife Trust .
If you have further information about Cranleigh Waters that you feel should be raised at this meeting please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also read more about sewage pollution in the Cranleigh Waters in our articles:
• Shamley Green, Wonersh and Bramley Angling Society
• No more sewage in Cranleigh Waters
CRANLEIGH FLOOD FORUM NEWS
MP Anne Milton ran an effective and Informative Flood Forum today, in the Band room, from 10 till 11am.
The team assembled around her included representatives from Thames Water, Waverley Borough Council and Surrey County Council.
Questions had been sent to Anne Milton’s office – to her secretary Sarah – in advance – plus Anne used the minutes of the previous meeting to ask those present for the answers.
MP Anne first asked if the public have been looking at Cranleigh Parish Council’s website for news – most people said no – so here is a link which we urge you to read – http://www.cranleighpc.org/_VirDir/CoreContents/News/Display.aspx?id=11210
The meeting was attended by at least 60 people including 3 Councillors. The minutes will be circulated as soon as possible, meanwhile here are the minutes of the previous meeting.
PREVIOUS CRANLEIGH FLOOD FORUM MINUTES
Note of Meeting: 24 July 2017, Band Room, Cranleigh
The Rt Hon Anne Milton MP (Chair)
Sue Pennison, Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI)
Waverley Borough Council (WBC):
Peter Cleveland, Planning
Gayle Wootton, Planning
William Gibb, Planning Enforcement
Nick Laker, Engineers
Richard Homewood, Environmental Services
Beverley Bell, Clerk, Cranleigh Parish Council
Sarah Coleby, Office of Anne Milton MP
Cyril Mitkov, Thames Water (TW)
Nishad Sowky, Thames Water
Paul Hudson, Environment Agency (EA)
Tor Peebles, Surrey County Council (SCC)
County Cllr Andrew Povey
Cllr Liz Townsend
Cllr Stewart Stennett
Cllr Jeannette Stennett
Parish Cllr Angela Richardson
Steve Robjohns, Public Health England
Parish Council – Beverley Bell reported that information was on the website and in the September newsletter
Waverley planning officers have sent a link to the Parish Council to put on their website.
Thames Water reported that this was an ongoing battle. Many had been addressed, but always keen to receive more evidence. A specialist engineers has been identified, and action is planned.
Thames Water cannot enforce, but the Borough Council can. It was suggested that home owners should be required to provide invoice evidence that new connections have been carried out.
The foul sewer is inundated with surface water, or ingress from ground water. With more housing it was suggested that 12 times dry weather flow may be required, and a total upgrade required, to accommodate current housing and housing that now had planning permission.
Database: Cllr Townsend requested a hotspot database. It was recognised that local knowledge and local people identifying a problem was crucial. This should be reported through the Parish Council who can refer on to Thames Water/Environmental Health/Environment Agency as appropriate.
Cranleigh Waters: the water course is categorised as ‘moderate’. The EA reported that macrophytes and phosphates are the key problem, based on worst case analysis, not averages. It was suggested that data is only available up to 2013-14, and was taken from only one monitoring point.
ACTION: Thames Water to confirm that the wet weather flow is 10 times the dry weather flow – whereas tank capacity is 6 times dry weather flow.
ACTION: All – to report what they see to email@example.com
ACTION: Catchment Group – to consider moving sampling sites and investigate the availability of more up to date data. EA to report back to next meeting.
Waverley planners reported that the Local Plan includes general policy about avoiding pollution, and mitigation for flooding. It was still with the Planning Inspector
Cllr Stennett stressed that flooding occurred less when the EA maintained the river, and that annual maintenance is vital. Riparian ownership is recognised, but the EA can move an obstruction where there is specific flood risk.
It was acknowledged that a culture change is required – so that people take responsibility personally (under riparian ownership) or as a community. This would help to make sure funding is prioritised where enforcement is difficult (eg a vulnerable owner physically unable to undertake work). There is grant funding available for community schemes, and riparian owners should also be asked to contribute. Solutions can be relatively easy. Anne Milton pointed out that a walkabout can help to highlight problem areas, this is an approach she uses in other Flood Forum groups once a year.
Tor Peebles (SCC) confirmed the importance of feedback, and stressed that priority depends whether homes are at risk.
Nightingales Culvert: culvert owned by Thames Water, upstream is a riparian issue with a group of residents looking to maintain, but concern that there is a blockage within the 200m culvert.
Insurance for Community Groups: Tor Peebles suggested crowdfunding, organisations such as Scottish Electric, Tesco (plastic bag fund), Greggs, Surrey Community Foundation.
ACTION: Tor Peebles to put group in touch with others who have previous experience.
Cranleigh Waters: Cllr Townsend reported that dredging has caused problems downstream. EA reported that they are investigating with Cranleigh Nurseries, and although there may be no increase in flood risk the environmental damage may be significant – and they will not give up.
Planning Applications: Cranleigh Society are concerned about developments given planning permission with no apparent objection by the EA, and particularly about the Thakeham Homes development. The EA reported that they did not object because there was no flood risk of homes at the level where homes will be built. Residents expressed concern if the EA accept evidence provided by a developer over anecdotal and even photographic evidence provided by residents. There had been work carried out by Adrian Clarke (Cranleigh Society) and Doug Hill (SCC) in 2015 to map the flood plain, including collecting photo evidence, this may not have been taken into account by SCC as Lead Flood Authority.
ACTION: SCC Tor Peebles to get details and do letter about SUDS standards.
ACTION: Cllr Townsend to provide questions to Tor Peebles
ACTION: WBC Planners to share response re Thakeham application to Parish Council to publish on website
Thames Water reported sampling pipe material at 5 sites. Water at 13 sites had been sampled and analysed. At 10 sites there were no fibres, 3 had tested positive for some fibres (2/millilitre at one and 1/millilitre at the others). TW tested under normal conditions to household supply, at the time of a burst and near the burst site, and after a flush of the system.
By comparison, 1 cubic metre of air contains 10 fibres. Some of these fires would be occurring naturally, and this represents a very low concentration.
3 km out of 14 km water pipes in Cranleigh (about 20%) are asbestos cement mains. TW are continuing to look at the possibility of risk and will be consulting next year, when they will welcome feedback.
The Drinking Water Inspectorate (Sue Pennison) reported that she has written to the World Health Organisation to request an opportunity to engage; she would work further with Cllr Townsend and with Cranleigh Society. She confirmed that the Inspectorate and Thames Water consider the water supply in Cranleigh to be safe to drink.
The next meeting was proposed for Friday 9 March 2018
Your MP Hears your problems – FLOOD FORUM
Bandroom, Friday, March 9th. 9.30 am
VITAL YOU & YOUR NEIGHBOURS ATTEND
Anne Milton MP and your Waverley Borough & Cranleigh Parish Councillors plus many Officers from the Council, Thames Water & other agencies – will attend 10-11.30 – can they
STOP the next Cranleigh FLOOD?
STOP house building until our overloaded Sewerage System is upgraded
replace 29% of our drinking water pipes that are made from asbestos containing cement
Slow down At least 2,600 houses in Waverley Borough Council’s Local Plan – for Dunsfold aerodrome
STOP Massive Overload of our infrastructure
ENSURE A281 to Guildford DOES NOT GET clogged up!
WE LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING AND HEARING YOU ON FRIDAY
THANK YOU FOR YOUR INTEREST AND SUPPORT