Flood Forum Update – Our MP Anne Milton calls this meeting and requires a panel of experts to attend for one hour to answer important questions posed last time, and to take away actions. Next meeting Friday 22nd March, Cranleigh Band Room, 10.30 am. We have microphones and a PA system. We will provide notes about the panel and the topics.
INSURANCE – Cranleigh Civic Society is concerned about housing being built on land that is known to flood. It is difficult to understand the expert reports to Waverley’s planning department, explaining how the flood risks are to be managed. CCS has been in contact with an insurance company and also the Association of British Builders (ABI). There is a scheme called “Flood Re”, set up by Government, to make sure that homes built before 2009 can get flood insurance. But those built afterwards cannot IF they are built on sites with a high chance of flooding. Also the “Flood Re” insurance will come to an end in 2039. So people who look at buying new properties (anywhere) are advised to look at the planning applications comments and objections in case they are thought to be at risk.
The Environment Agency now has Cranleigh on its Flood Alert service https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/warnings
“Cranleigh Waters Flooding is possible – be prepared – Property flooding is not currently expected. River levels have risen on the Cranleigh Waters as a result of rainfall last night and this morning (04/03/19). Therefore, flooding of roads and farmland is expected. Further light rain showers are forecast over the next few hours. We expect river levels to remain high this afternoon and start falling this evening. We are closely monitoring the situation. Please remain safe and aware of your local surroundings and refer to the ‘River and Sea levels in England’ web page for current river levels. This message will be updated this evening, or as the situation changes.
This information was last updated at
Rivers – we will continue to “river dip” soon – we will be looking for the tiny lavae of river flies – these are the food for other species and fish, and show if the water is clean enough. Surrey Wildlife Trust are actively setting up improvements to the water ways. n.b. fallen tree trunks and branches can safely be left in the waterways!
Sewage treatment works – is run by Thames Water. All we know is that they must provide suitable fresh water and sewerage treatment works for the number of people living in each area. We also know that there is sometimes a problem with sewage items coming up in homes and streets. if this happens call Thames Water and they will attend the scene and fix what they can. Then also tell Cranleigh Parish Council for their records.
Fresh Water supplies – we will be asking TW for an update on their project to bring a new pipeline to our area in the next 6 or so years.
Replacement of old Asbestos Cement drinking water pipes – we continue to press Waverley Borough Council to ensure all the old asbestos cement drinking water pipes in Cranleigh are replaced before any more new homes get connected to them, to take away any risks associated with the release of asbestos fibres into the water system. In January 2017, Cranleigh Civic Society issued a Hazard Report about this to Waverley and we asked Waverley to risk assess the hazard. They have not been able to take action for various reasons. In February 2017, the Government’s Health and Safety Executive also wrote to Waverley asking them to risk assess Cranleigh Civic Society’s hazard report, but so far, over 2 years later, Waverley has not reported success. Cranleigh Parish Council have written to WHO and there is some hope that funding can be found for them to investigate any health risks.
Testing of Cranleigh’s rivers has always taken place occasionally and now Surrey Wildlife Trust is helping to get more testing done and some improvements made.
Chemical levels are measured by groups of volunteers as are the numbers of river fly larvae, which indicate the health levels.
It is a fact that all sewage works clean the water as best they can before letting it go into the rivers. Here are two more facts:
The levels of chemicals that remain, although allowed by government, are not good for wild life and cause the depletion of fish and their natural foods.
In a flood situation, foul untreated sewage does come up in people’s homes which is why all the possessions have to be destroyed in the worst cases.
River dipping is a much needed and scientific past-time that some of us have undertaken on everyone’s behalf . We are hunting for river-flies as they are known, the tiny lavae of various species such as cadis fly, which are collected, counted and returned to the rivers. Afterwards the data collected is viewed by experts.
At a recent dip we found just one lava along with shrimps, and so the water is probably not to their liking, too many chemicals from somewhere.
We were dipping near to the back of Cranleigh Golf and Country club.
Please sign up to help restore our local “Rivers” – Cranleigh Waters! Will you join in so that the water flows better and the wildlife come back? We all want and need a thriving river. It starts with counting what’s there at the moment.
SURREY WILDLIFE TRUST
Surrey Wildlife Trust has secured some funds to do some much needed restoration works but really need volunteers to help on the following days :-
Wednesday 29th August 10am till 3pm
Saturday 15th September 10am till 3pm
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO HELP PLEASE CONTACT GLENSKELTON YOURSELVES AT
“The project: In partnership with Thames Water, Surrey Wildlife Trust are working to restore the Cranleigh Waters back to a thriving river. To do this we need your help. We are recruiting volunteers in the area to join our team of regular Riverfly monitors who sample the aquatic life that lives on the river bed”
Please also consider joining Surrey Wildlife Trust – they are amazing and there are not enough staff to look after everything that needs to be cared for.
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:
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.
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!