River Basin and Flood Risk plans – Environment Agency consultations

The Environment Agency is seeking views on proposals to improve the water environment and protect communities from flood risk in England.

They would like your input on updates to river basin management plans and flood risk management plans. Once agreed, these plans will shape decisions, direct investment and action and deliver significant benefits for society and the environment.

River basin management plans set out long term objectives for the quality of the water environment. They identify the condition of rivers, lakes and coastal waters and the pressures on them. The plans provide evidence that will help those with an interest in the water environment to agree where improvements can be made.

Flood risk management plans describe the risk of flooding from rivers, the sea, surface water, groundwater and reservoirs. They set out how the Environment Agency, local councils and water companies will work together, with communities, to manage flood risk.

These links will also explain how to respond to consultations in river basin districts which cross borders with Scotland and Wales.

The formal closing date for the flood risk management plan consultation is 31 January 2015, while the river basin management plan consultations will run for six months, ending on 10 April 2015.

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NWSF NEWS & Updates

‘Turn around, don’t drown’
More than half (54%) of UK drivers would endanger themselves and their vehicles by driving through moving flood water; according to a joint Environment Agency and AA survey. The research also revealed that more than a quarter (27%) of respondents would drive through moving flood water deeper than 30cm, (which is enough to move a car). The EA and the AA strongly advise not entering flood water that is moving or water more than 10cm deep.
Last year, the second wettest on record in the UK, claimed the lives of several motorists. In the same period, the AA rescued almost 9,000 vehicles that had driven through or were stuck in flood water, with an estimated insurance bill of more than £34 million. The survey found that:

  • more than two-fifths (42%) of drivers would blindly follow the vehicle in front if it had crossed a flooded road successfully;
  • the equivalent of 680,000 drivers would ignore a ‘road closed’ warning sign and drive down a flooded road rather than take a short detour – this is dangerous, an offence and insurers could reject any flood damage claim;
  • people aged between 55 and 64 are most likely to risk driving through the deepest flowing flood water (up to 34cm);
    men would attempt to drive through deeper water (up to 34cm) than women (up to 27cm):
  • and those living in North East England would attempt to drive through deeper water (up to 34cm) than anywhere else in the UK.

‘Tragically people die because they’ve taken risks and attempted to drive through flood water. Flood water is dangerous, dirty and it can carry disease. If there is widespread flooding in your area then don’t travel and if a road is closed then turn around and make a detour. It is tempting to think you’re safe from the dangers of floodwater in some big vehicles like 4x4s and vans, but the fact is, that you aren’t’ said Adele Needham for the Environment Agency. The EA in the South West has been trialing hi-tech signs at three blackspots in the West Country, where drivers have previously been rescued after becoming trapped by floodwater. The lights were introduced as part of a ‘Think Don’t Sink’ campaign that aims to raise awareness of the dangers of flooded roads. The lights, that are similar in size to standard speed limit signs, are linked by telemetry to nearby watercourses and immediately start flashing when water levels reach the point where a road has flooded. The word ‘Flood’ is clearly visible to approaching drivers. Signs are positioned either side of a flooding blackspot at the point where motorists can chose an alternative route and avoid being trapped in their vehicle. Often they are in Rapid Response Catchments where conditions can change quickly following heavy rain and water levels rise with little warning. To find out if you are at risk and to sign up for free flood warnings go to:
http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/floods/default.aspx or call Floodline on 0845 988 1188.

Coastal safety and Coastguard safety messages

The Coastguard remind dog owners not to put themselves in danger
Humber Coastguard is again urging dog owners not to put themselves at risk by trying to save their pet. The warning comes after the rescue of a pitbull terrier that jumped into the water at Seaham Pier, County Durham. Graham Dawson, Watch Manager at Humber Coastguard, said:
“The owner was worried about her pet and told emergency services that she was going to enter the water to try to rescue her dog. This is something we strongly advise against, as you are likely to get into difficulty yourself. We find that most dogs manage to get themselves back to shore safe and well, but some owners do not. We’d also encourage owners to keep their pets on a lead. But if they do enter the water or fall down a cliff edge, please call 999 straight away and ask for the Coastguard.” Read more: http://www.dft.gov.uk/mca/mcga07-home/newsandpublications/press-releases.htm?id=B3C4D8D51D7608DE&m=12&y=2013

A joint appeal from the Police and Coastguard: ‘Do not enter the sea during bad weather’.
Devon and Cornwall Police with Her Majesty’s Coastguard are appealing to local residents and visitors to the Devon and Cornwall region not to enter the sea during the bad weather. A police spokesperson said: “There are people who enjoy swimming in all weathers as well as those who may underestimate the danger a rough sea can pose. During the current bad weather, we would like to appeal to people not to put themselves, and emergency personnel who might have to turn out to rescue them, in unnecessary danger.”
HM Coastguard advises that those who enjoy walking on beaches and rocky areas stay away from the surf line during this period of extreme weather and ensure that children and pets do likewise. Large waves can easily take people by surprise and the force of the waves is significant. Dogs should be kept on leads if walking along cliff tops.
In an emergency at the coast, do not put yourself in danger by entering the water or climbing cliffs but call 999 and request the Coastguard. http://www.dft.gov.uk/mca/mcga07-home/newsandpublications/press-releases.htm?id=B3C4D8D51D7608DE&m=12&y=2013

Huber Coastguard urge anglers to name their fishing gear
After having coordinated a search for an angler who left valuable fishing gear unattended on a jetty at Ness Point, Lowestoft, the Coastguard urge anglers to name their fishing gear. The search involved four lifeboats, one Police helicopter and a Coastguard Rescue Team. The angler concerned had gone home to collect his medication and then got held up. Graham Dawson, Humber Coastguard watch manager says:
“We take all reports of possible missing persons at sea very seriously, with the recent bad weather and floods we have been extremely busy and if this angler had clearly named his fishing equipment we could have contacted him and saved the time and effort of the resources involved in today’s search effort.”
http://www.dft.gov.uk/mca/mcga07-home/newsandpublications/press-releases.htm?id=B6F7449E1E8B3FEC&m=1&y=2014

Roads and rail hit by flooding, communities urged to be prepared for further disruption

The Environment Agency is warning communities across England and Wales to remain vigilant and alert for flooding as heavy rain is set to continue today and into Tuesday. Heavy rain overnight in the south west of England caused travel disruption and resulted in 14 flood warnings and 46 alerts across Devon and Somerset, and 4 flood warning and 14 flood alerts across the Midlands. Read more on the Environment Agency website… For Flood warnings in your area go to http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/floods/31618.aspx

Construction set to start on major sea defence scheme for Deal

The Environment Agency will begin work on a £10 million sea defence project running along the Kent coast. The ambitious scheme will reduce the risk of tidal flooding to 1,418 homes and 148 commercial properties in the town & will also protect other key assets including the Thanet Coast and Sandwich Bay Special Protection Area and Ramsar Site, the Sandwich Bay Special Area of Conservation; the railway line between Ramsgate and Dover in addition to historic monuments and listed buildings in North Deal.
The project will see a new 200m long rock barrier being created north of Sandown Castle that will significantly improve the standard of protection from coastal flooding and reduce the risk of a breach. This is in addition to 120,000 cubic metres of shingle being delivered via a pipeline from an offshore dredger to bolster the beach against the tides. The shingle will act as a natural defence against tidal wave action and will be moved into place with bulldozers and dumper trucks from mid September. Read more on the Environment Agency website…

Improving bathing waters on Wales’ beaches as weather changes

The changing weather forecast will provide a boost for visitors and beach-goers this Summer as water quality at some of Wales’ most popular beaches is likely to improve with more settled weather, according to Environment Agency Wales.
The record rainfall during June and early July not only caused flooding in parts of Wales, it also affected bathing water quality at some of the 100 designated bathing beaches sampled by the Agency.
At the midway point of the bathing water testing season (which runs from May to September) results had dipped reflecting the unsettled weather pattern of recent months. Agency sampling officers found that bacterial levels increased following the heavy rain partly as pollutants from fields and urban areas were washed into rivers. The heavy rainfall also caused storm sewage discharge systems to release diluted sewage into rivers in order to protect homes from flooding. Other sources of pollution that impact on water quality include badly maintained cesspits and septic tanks, and poor household plumbing. In some cases, foul water pipes are incorrectly connected to the surface water drainage systems which flow, untreated into rivers.

Improving water quality
However, as the rain eases and the sunnier weather continues bacterial levels will reduce due to less pollution and some will be killed off by Ultra Violet rays from the sun. Bathing water quality has improved dramatically in the last 20 years, much of it due to Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water’s £1bn of investment into waste water improvements. In addition to influencing this investment, the Agency has also been advising farmers about different practices in order to reduce diffuse pollution. However, more work needs to be done to meet tough new standards in the revised Bathing Water Directive coming into force in 2015 with some standards being twice as stringent as those in previous years.

Further investigation into sources of pollution
The Agency will continue to investigate the source of pollution affecting water quality in order to tackle those responsible.
It is working closely with Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water and other sectors to secure continued improvement in future water quality and Chris Mills, Director, Environment Agency Wales, said:

“I am sure many of us welcomed the recent sunshine and made the most of it at some of the fantastic beaches in Wales. And the good weather will also mean better water quality for bathing. The record rainfall which fell in June and July has affected water quality and some beaches will have struggled to meet the standards expected. We have seen a dramatic improvement in bathing water in the last 20 years but remain determined to push on from this and make sure bathing waters are clean and healthy, not only to meet EU rules, but for the people and economy of Wales.”

People can find out information on bathing waters either on the Environment Agency website or:
Bathing Water Data Explorer website
Beach Finder app available for download on most smart phones. Go to the RNLI pages for more information.

Flood update

The Environment Agency is continuing to keep a close watch on river levels as well as checking defences and clearing any potential blockages to reduce the risk of flooding. Whilst the Met Office has been forecasting some heavy rain throughout the morning – which could lead to localised flooding – there are no significant concerns.
Environment Agency flood defence schemes across the country have protected thousands of properties. An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “We are urging people to stay safe and be prepared. People can sign up for the Environment Agency’s free flood warnings service and keep up to date by checking our website, looking out for updates on our Facebook and Twitter pages, or calling us on 0845 988 1188.”
The Environment Agency is warning of the dangers of flood water. People should keep away from swollen rivers, and not attempt to walk or drive through them. Read more on the Environment Agency website…

Putting emergency response to flooding to the test

Environment Agency emergency response teams are being put through their paces this week. The Environment Agency’s Kettering-based Welland and Nene Operations Delivery teams took part in an emergency exercise in Geddington on Wednesday. The exercise saw the teams erect temporary flood defences on the River Ise, upstream of Town Bridge in the village. Russell Gillett, Operations Delivery Team Leader, said: “The exercise ensured response times, emergency procedures and management of staff, machines, and materials are effective in a real flooding emergency. Read more on the Environment Agency website…

Help influence the future of our environment

The Environment Agency are currently recruiting volunteers on their flood and coastal committees, to shape local flood and coastal management plans and help influence the future of our environment. The Environment Agency has vacancies on its two Midlands Regional Flood and Coastal Committees (RFCCs). Applications need to be received by Thursday 5 April and we are keen to hear from environmental enthusiasts wanting to join one of our RFCCs. The RFCCs will play an important role in deciding local priorities, raising local levies and approving work. Read more on the Environment Agency website…

Flood risk areas prepared for emergencies says independent report

England and Wales are now better prepared than ever to respond to major flooding, says an independent report published today.

10,000 people took part in Britain’s biggest ever civil emergency exercise, Exercise Watermark, last March to test the country’s response to floods. The Exercise Watermark report published today shows that emergency services in areas at risk of flooding are well prepared to keep people safe in a major flood. Defra has awarded £2.5 million in grants to improve emergency responses to floods in the last eighteen months.

These are being used to:

  • triple the number of boat rescue teams, by April 2012;
  • provide specialist flood rescue training for emergency responders, including local flood rescue volunteers in flood-risk areas; and
  • provide vital new equipment such as vehicles, outboard motors and diving equipment.

Flooding Minister, Richard Benyon said:

“We are more prepared than ever to protect peoples’ lives, homes and businesses from the devastating effects of floods. Staging Exercise Watermark was a true test of how we react to flooding and keep people safe and, while there are lessons to be learnt, I’m pleased to say, it is a test we all came through.

“The Government has given £2.5 million to councils and emergency services over the last eighteen months to increase the number of expert flood rescue teams and allow them to buy important equipment. As a result, they are more prepared than ever before to keep people safe when the time comes that they need to act.”

Read more on the Defra website…

Facebook to connect communities at risk of flooding

A new support network for those affected by and at risk of flooding has been created on Facebook.

Flood Group UK is a new page to help communities at risk of flooding to support each other. The group is being launched today by government organisations and flood forums from across the UK. With around 5.4 million properties in the UK at risk of flooding, it is important that individuals and communities take steps to prepare themselves for flooding as winter approaches.

Flood Group UK enables communities to share information, experiences and advice about flooding. It also contains a flood directory with information on how to find out if you are at risk of flooding, how to sign up for free flood warnings and what simple steps you can take to protect your property. Read more on the EA Website…