Monday, 30 June 2008

Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE)

Follow the link below to see in full what CPRE has to say:

"Ninety-five per cent of gravel for Oxfordshire comes from the Lower Windrush area and forty-five per cent of Lower Windrush has been excavated since the War."

"CPRE West Oxfordshire District has lent their support to the Northmoor pressure group ..."

"It is likely that Hansons will get one of the permissions - probably Northmoor - an absolute disaster for what little remains of the Lower Windrush valley. At the moment the consultation process is on hold because OCC messed up the procedures and it will, at some point, have to be done again."

http://www.cpreoxon.org.uk/campaigns/sustainability/minerals/eynsham_gravel.html

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Flooding in Northmoor - A resident writes ...

Being a resident of Northmoor I attended the Council Meeting on July 19th and was as surprised and appalled at the conduct and outcome of the meeting as were so many others who have contributed to this blog. In particular I want to add my support to the notion that the first vote rightly and properly overturned the motion before the committee, The second vote was therefore irrelevant and improper in its presentation to the committee by the chairman.

To be clear and to the point I have a vested interest in stopping the Stonehenge development going ahead. This is not a NIMBY thing. In fact when I bought my house in Northmoor twenty years ago I was aware of the possibility of the extension of the then existing gravel workings. It was in the County Council’s plan as a potential site for future development and I was quite prepared to accept that and went ahead with the purchase. What I didn’t know then but have discovered since is the accelerating risk of both the frequency and the severity of local flooding.

In fact my house has not flooded in all the time we’ve been here. According to long term residents of the village it hasn’t flooded since it was built in 1935. But I have noticed that the local flooding has got more frequent and deeper year by year (witness the Maybush Inn). These days a heavy rainfall leaves large puddles in our field which can take a week or more to drain away. This is also evident in several fields between the village and the river where new semi-permanent ponds are forming. This never happened a few years ago. Similarly the bridleway behind Mount Pleasant is regularly wet during the winter, as expected, but has had standing water throughout this year. Why should that be?

The way I see it we have two problems which together put the Northmoor community at increased risk of flooding. One is the woeful state of the historic drainage systems in our local area. The other is the impact of the massive amount of gravel extraction which has taken place.
In twenty years the Thames has burst its banks most winters. The flood bank which might protect the village is in a sorry state of repair and is breached so that the areas which it should protect are regularly flooded. The ditches are not maintained and therefore can’t drain water to the river and the Thames itself, which when we moved to the village was regularly dredged by Thames Conservancy, is now, as far as I am aware, never cleared. Does this sound like an accident waiting to happen?

Well, the accident happened in July last year. A few hours of seriously heavy rain and the disaster started. The results are well documented elsewhere on this site.

We were lucky. No water in the house but our field, garden and drive were flooded for the first time ever. The main drains flooded and backed up and we were without a loo for a week. We had to prepare to move furniture and ourselves upstairs. We moved the horses to dry land and dogs to friends outside the flood risk area. (Dog’s don’t do their business in floods - or upstairs in my house!) Do I believe that the severity of the flooding was in any way due to gravel extraction and that further digging will make things worse? You bet I do.

My elderly neighbours have lived in their house for forty eight years. Like us, they had never flooded – until last July. They managed to stay in their house but their downstairs rooms were under water for a week. By a miracle their summerhouse was not flooded and they could (literally) wade across their drive and, ironically, enjoy the sun which followed those few hours of rain. However they were extremely upset by the disruption, uncertainty and damage and emotionally drained by the whole experience. Do they believe that the severity of the flooding was in any way due to gravel extraction and that further digging will make things worse? You bet they do.

Climate change happens – it’s a global issue. Gravel extraction happens – it’s a local issue. Will new workings at Stonehenge Farm exacerbate the chances of future flooding in Northmoor in the face of further climate change? You bet they will.

Can anyone in Hanson’s or the Environment Agency persuade me or my neighbours that extracting gravel from Stonehange Farm site will not increase the risk of flooding in Northmoor. Fat chance.

Sent in by Peter Winder, Resident of Northmoor

Friday, 27 June 2008

Orchids

You will have seen the orchids pictured in the post dated 17th June entitled "What does the proposed Extraction Site look like?"

The Cotswold Rare Plants Group (CRPG) found a number of orchid species on the site: the Early Marsh, Southern Marsh and Bee Orchids. The other rare species that the Group found was Adder's Tongue Fern. Having drawn up a list of plants, the plants they discovered indicated that these fields were once water meadows.

The CRPG stated: "the presence of just one or two of these species would not be so special, but the presence of this number as a whole, the orchids and the Adder's Tongue in particular, make the site worth saving from a botanical point of view... What we have here is a moment in time in the long process of reversion from arable to meadow. Provided the regime is continued of taking off a hay crop every year, the ground will gradually become more impoverished. The false oat-grass will decrease and more delicate meadow grasses and more flowers typical of the Thames flood plain eg Ragged Robin, will have a chance to establish themselves."

OUTRAGE argues that "if left alone, its (the site's) biodiversity would in time equal that which is claimed for it under the applicant's (Hanson's) open water and reedbed restoration scheme." Furthermore, OUTRAGE claims that "the kind of biodiversity attainable without the development is more appropriate to the traditional character of the Upper Thames Valley." The assessment by the applicant (Hanson), although confirming the findings of the Cotswold Rare Plants Group (CRPG), failed to note the presence of Adder's Tongue."

The CRPG report states that "Adder's tongue is an unusual plant to find."

"It grows in neutral wet meadows but ploughing and fertilising of grasslands have destroyed many of its old habitats" (CRPG 'Botanical Report on Stonehenge Farm', 2005). The Oxfordshire Local Biodiversity Plan: Habitat Action Plan for Neutral Grassland and Grazing Marsh states that: 'the extent of neutral grassland in the UK has declined dramatically with a loss of 97% of semi-natural sites between 1938 and 1984 and subsequent declines of between 2 and 10% per annum".

The CRPG Report lists a number of species which indicate that these fields 'were once old water meadows' and that their current condition represents 'a moment in the long process of reversion from arable to meadow'.

OUTRAGE argues that "the fields in question have been under their present regime for approximately 12 years. The gravel development is estimated to take about 8 to 10 years. The evidence shows that, during that period the fields will continue to revert to water meadowland. The lakes that currently cover so much of the local area are essentially alien to this landscape. Reedbeds, which would form a relatively small proportion of the restoration scheme, are already abundantly present at the Cassington development... "

As Oxfordshire's own HAP states, more than 97% of the nation's neutral grassland has been destroyed. The Upper Thames Valley is characterised by just such grassland. Here is an opportunity to recover some of that plant and wildlife diversity.
The applicant (Hanson) describes the establishment of lakes and reedbeds as 'restoration' and as adequate compensation for the loss of the two grassland fields. But this is not 'restoration'. Lakes and reedbeds would be new features. By contrast, the return of water meadows would be a genuine 'restoration', the loss of which could never be adequately compensated for by yet another mosaic of wetland habitat."

Thursday, 26 June 2008

OUTRAGE Appeal

We are approaching a critical period for the fate of Stonehenge Farm and, in order to continue to get our message across to the decision-makers, Outrage needs to raise funds. We appeal to everyone who supports our campaign, to donate as generously as they can.

So far we have managed on very little. We have had a donation from the Council for the Protection of Rural England, a few donations from individuals, and the generous gift of all our printing costs. Apart from that, everything has been done on a voluntary basis. Outrage committee members have put in huge amounts of time on research, letter-writing, report-writing, attendance at planning consultative meetings and meetings with the planning officers, not to mention running up phone and travel bills.

Before the Oxfordshire County Council planning committee meeting on May 19th, Outrage decided that we needed the help of a professional media consultant. This resulted in excellent coverage in the press and on local TV. It was money well spent. We would like to do this again in advance of the next OCC committee meeting on July 21st, but we have very little left in our account.

This is a cause that affects us all in Northmoor, Standlake, Stanton Harcourt and Sutton. Please help us to win it. Send your donation payable to Outrage to: John Downes (Outrage Treasurer), Greenfields, Church Road, Northmoor, Witney, Oxon, OX29.

Thank you.

Julie Hankey

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Independent Review of Summer Floods - June 2008

Sir Michael Pitt carried out an independent review, published today.

"Flooding Plan needs Improvement"

"Urgent and fundamental changes" are needed to improve flood defences, the report into last summer's floods says.

"Severe flooding was "an ever increasing threat", and waiting for another crisis before taking action would be "a dangerous strategy of luck".

For more information, select the links below:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7472564.stm

For yesterday's update:
See the BBC Video on Flooding

For more footage on the flooding in July 2007:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_pictures/6911497.stm

Local Government Authority (LGA) Press Release of 11th June http://www.lga.gov.uk/lga/core/page.do?pageId=702027in response to Flooding Report

Response to today's report received this morning from a resident of Northmoor:

"The national report on flooding published today (25th June 2008) shows the stark deficiencies in our current flood prevention and management. Nowhere is this more clearly demonstrated than in our area. Your recent photographs show how high the water still is and thus how much we are still at risk should we have another period of heavy rain, as we typically get during the latter part of the summer (never mind the winter).

Right now we are another flood waiting to happen. There is no evidence that the government will provide the money from our taxes to do what is actually needed: long-term investment in our drainage infrastructure (see note below). Until that time, interference with our fragile hydrology by the excavation of huge open-caste mines, development of clay-lined lakes, and building of massive earth walls or bunds must be prevented at all costs. I am astounded that the hydrology model does not show the flooding risk more clearly and can only conclude that it is a poor model that does not correspond with the real-life experience of those who live here.

Approval of the application will just bring the threat of flooding that much closer to us. Let those who would take the responsibility for approving the application also take responsibility for the economic and personal consequences of the flood that will follow.

Note on flood prevention

Flooding occurs when drains are unable to take the flow of water demanded. As the population of London grew, the Victorians invested in sewers to take the extra effluent. We need to invest in drains and keep them free-flowing. Around us there is only one effective drain and that is the Thames. No amount of ditch-clearing will affect the flooding if the Thames is not dredged and managed. A key need is to keep the water low ahead of rain. This is achievable; we need the EA to make it happen."

by Graham from Moreton Lane, Northmoor

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

What does Gravel Extraction look like?

The topsoil is taken and used to build "bunds",
banks which provide some visual and accoustic
protection and are storage for the soil until it can
be used again. It is proposed in the plans that
these bunds range from 2-3 metres in height on
the Stonehenge site ...














The gravel is extracted ...




























and the huge excavated areas, lined with clay,
gradually filled with water ...
























































The gravel is transported by truck to the start
of the conveyor belt ...














You can get a feeling for what the conveyor belt
sounds like in this short film below ...
video
and transported across the open countryside
via conveyor belt ...






































Water levels are very high in the River Windrush
which flows alongside this site, even in the second
week of June ...












































































There is surface water everywhere ...














It is really quite deep - and this is on the 10th June ...

Monday, 23 June 2008

Sutton - Flooding in July 2007















Sutton Lane - July 2007
















Sutton Lane - 8th June 2008















Sutton Lane - 3rd June 2008

Northmoor - Flooding in July 2007

Two fields east of Lower Farm, Northmoor
towards Bablock Hythe ...



















Moreton - Flooding in July 2007



The view from Moreton Farm was water as far as the eye could see in every direction ...












































































Hundreds of sheep had to be evacuated from Moreton.
The only way to do it was by horseback or boat ...













Standlake - Flooding in July 2007

The following photographs were taken by a resident of Standlake in July 2007:

Evacuation of Meadow View Nursing Home ...














The childrens' recreation ground ...














The childrens' playground ...














Rack End














To hear the sheer volume of water rushing from
the field into the recreation ground, you might like
to look at the following short video clip ...
video

Natural England - Press Release on 12th June 2008

"Reducing flooding naturally – one year on from 2007 summer floods"

"The key to long-term, cost effective flood prevention could be held in England's National Parks and farmland landscapes, says Natural England today (Thursday 12 June) one year on from last year’s summer floods."

For the full press release, follow the link below:

http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/press/news2008/120608.htm

Friday, 20 June 2008

Residents write in ...

Helen Hutchings from Northmoor writes today ...

"As a resident of Northmoor I was heartened to read the very obvious common sense of the flooding report ie

1) ''The Environment Agency to undertake a full floodzone modelling study, including effect of gravel abstraction, of the Windrush delta, including Newbridge Cut and Northmoor New Cut.

Prepare flood control options from the Study conclusions drawn.'

2) 'Hanson's in conjunction with the EA to prepare a satisfactory flood defence solution with regard to their proposed quarrying operations.'

but I am seriously concerned that the EA and Hansons, if their previous arrogance is anything to go by, will ignore or ride rough shod over the recommendations.

Surely if they were both so confident that the extraction would not increase our risk of flooding then they could produce models to prove it or put up a guarantee to compensate us in full if we do suffer flooding as a result."

Steven Cooling from Northmoor has written in too ...

"Having travelled and lived all over the world it was with utter disbelief I witnessed my first English Council meeting. The meeting was supposed to discuss and make a decision about the Stonehenge Farm site for the extraction of gravel. The lax attitude of the councillors (one yawning and slouched in his chair) had to be seen to be believed. Information the councillors had been given was minimal and not enough to make this very important decision. A decision that could have a detrimental effect on a lot of people's lives. They seemed to be unaware or unconcerned that a flooding report commissioned by the West Oxfordshire District Council which is clearly highly relevant to the decision they were taking was not yet available for them to study.

If the local alarmed residents had not turned up in numbers and the very articulate and well informed speakers had not put forward their concerns, it was obvious that the proposal would have been pushed through. As a resident of Northmoor it seems common sense that the extraction of gravel in the area will have an detrimental affect on the water levels. If there is proof that this extraction and its clay bunds will have no affect, let Hansons and the Environmental Agency put a guarantee in place that if there is flooding or wells drying out the affected residents will be compensated in full.

There seems to be no concern about the impact such an enormous hole in the ground has on the diverse natural environment in the area. It will be changed forever and future generations will only see a 'man made' lake and reed beds!"


Julie Hankey from Northmoor also responds ...

"One of the things that motivates me in the fight against gravel extraction at Stonehenge Farm is the loss of landscape: fields wrecked, trees cut down, a place for wild animals and plants turned into a moonscape. But the loss of landscape, it seems, is low on the list of the planners' priorities.

In theory there are protections. Policy M2 (Oxfordshire Structure Plan 2016) says that in identifying appropriate locations for sand and gravel working, the County Council will take account of 'areas and sites of nature conservation importance, especially Special Areas of Conservation and Sites of Special Scientific Interest' and also 'features of landscape importance, especially Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty'.

In practice this policy is useless for anywhere which is neither designated nor labelled - neither a BAP (Biodiversity Action Priority) nor a HAP (Habitat Action Priority) nor an SSSI nor an AOB. In other words, if you're not part of the planners' alphabet soup, you're sunk.

Stonehenge Farm doesn't fall into any of these categories. So we're left with trying to explain what the landscape means to us. Our difficulty is that we can't quantify or measure this meaning. It's not like noise, or dust, or air quality. The planners and developers try to be scientific about it by using phrases like 'visual receptor points', 'major or minor adverse visual impacts', and 'intervisibility'. But in the end, they can twist this language to mean anything they want it to mean. If they can't avoid admitting that the whole thing is going to look like a disaster area, they'll say that it will only affect walkers actually walking through the site; that the conveyor belt will only be seen by people passing on the road; that only people living in the closest houses will be able to see any of it.

What they don't realize or acknowledge is that a big opencast mine like the one they propose at Stonehenge Farm has a far wider effect. This corner of the Thames Valley, between the Windrush and the Thames is very special. It has never been touched by the gravel companies and it feels different precisely because of that. There isn't that sense of violation and blight. I can't give it a number, or chart it on a grid. It's just the feeling of someone who, over the last twenty years, has come to love this part of the world."

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

What does the Proposed Extraction Area look like?

For those who are interested to see what the proposed extraction area looks like now, there follow a few photos of part of it ...














There is grass ...





















Lots and lots of grass, home to a myriad of
insects, birds and animals ...



















Many types of orchid ...






























































An existing haven for wildlife and wild flowers all around ...















































This will all disappear if the proposed gravel extraction goes ahead.
Take a moment to look at this short video clip below ...
video

Friday, 13 June 2008

Impressions of a Meeting (19th May) ...

Having attended The Oxfordshire County Council’s planning meeting of 19th May to consider the application for gravel extraction at Stonehenge Farm, Northmoor, I write to express my serious concerns about the conduct of the meeting and the simplistic manner in which some Councillors arrived at their conclusions.

Representatives for residents of The Windrush Valley gave the most carefully considered presentations, particularly in respect of the increased incidence of flooding caused by continuing gravel extraction in this area. Presentations were backed up by as much scientific and practical evidence as possible. It is absolutely clear that the objections expressed were not made as a result of the ‘nimbyism’ often associated with planning objections these days but with a sincere and genuine fear of the flooding which will undoubtedly result if excavation in The Lower Windrush Valley is allowed to continue.

In response to the considered presentations, some Councillors summed up the complex matter with comments like “another 80 acres won’t make any difference” and “It’s not our place to question reports from The Environment Agency”.


These councillors showed a complete lack of understanding of the dire danger to public and to property by choosing to ignore the obvious. Over half of The Lower Windrush Valley has already been dug for gravel, leaving lakes and wastelands that are entirely useless for absorbing water in times of flood. Gravel acts like a sponge, absorbing water when the water table is high and releasing it slowly back into the streams and rivers as the flood recedes. No thinking person on earth can say “gravel extraction will not cause additional flood risk” when HALF the natural absorbency of the land has been removed. I say nothing of the added dangers of the associated ‘bunds’ which interfere with the free flow of water and endanger many residents of The Lower Windrush Valley.


It seems to me that to ignore such basic facts borders on the criminally negligent and I shall take legal advice as to the recompense that might be sought a) from Oxfordshire County Council b) from the Environment Agency & c) the operator, should I ever sustain flood damage as a result of continued gravel extraction.

I should mention that I live in a house that I understand has not been flooded at any time during the last 550 years, although the Thames has flooded up to 20 yards from my front door on a number of occasions. Climate change is here to stay and it is the job of our elected bodies to minimise danger wherever possible. For those of us living in The Lower Windrush Valley, gravel extraction exasperates our vulnerability to flooding. We look to Oxfordshire County Council to protect us.


Sent in by Peter Strange, Sutton

For more "Impressions" from others on this subject, see the "In My Opinion" post of Sunday 25th May.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

A Northmoor Farmer ...

One beef farmer in Northmoor tells me that part of his farm is in the Upper Thames ESA (Environmentally Sensitive Area).

The Environmental Stewardship Scheme (ESS) was launched in March 2005 to build upon the Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA) Scheme, the Countryside Stewardship (CS) Scheme and the Organic Farming Scheme (OFS).
The main objectives of the scheme are to:
  • Conserve wildlife and biodiversity.
  • Maintain and enhance landscape quality and character
  • Protect the historic environment and natural resources
  • Promote public access and understanding of the countryside
  • Conserve genetic resources
  • Provide flood management
This farmer wanted to bring his farm up from Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) to Higher Level Stewardship (HLS).

HLS aims to provide significant environmental benefits in priority areas and situations. Examples of these include:

Hedgerows - e.g. maintenance to high environmental value
Grassland - maintenance & restoration of species-rich semi-natural grassland or wet grassland
Restoration and Maintenance of Lowland Heath
Wetlands - Maintenance of ponds of high wildlife value and reed beds.
Resource Protection - to prevent erosion and run-off.

In order to encourage wading birds such as lapwing and snipe he wished to restore an old pond which had been trodden in by cattle over the years (see photo below). All it needed to restore the pond back to its former state was for this small area to be dug out and the spoil graded up the sides. He was however informed by both the RSPB & Natural England that the Environment Agency would object to his plan as it could impede the flow of flood water.



In July 2007 95% of this farm was under water and his whole pedigree herd of 170 North Devon cows had to be evacuated.


The animals have not been the only casulties of the excess water. In the background of the photo below dead ash trees can be seen. The trees have gradually died, roots rotting due to the excessive amount of surface water.



Wednesday, 11 June 2008

EA urges "national effort" to tackle flooding

"Nearly one year after severe floods in England, the Environment Agency has warned that ministers, councils and utility firms need to act."

"People should also protect themselves and their homes from flooding and sign up to warning schemes, the agency said."

"The Local Government Association said the law should be changed to introduce penalties for utility companies and other organisations who fail to take proper action to reduce the risk of flooding."

Paul Bettison, chairman of the Local Government Association's environment board said:

"There are glaring gaps in this country's readiness to cope with widespread and prolonged flooding."

"Last summer's floods were no fluke, and we run the real risk of witnessing a repeat - or worse - unless urgent action is taken now."

"We need to get back to basics. There should be no opt-out, no excuses and clear penalties for anybody who refuses to cooperate with managing our water systems."

"Councils should be allowed to start banging heads together so we can be better prepared to protect people and property."

Click on the link below to read the article in full:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7446561.stm

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

A Northmoor Resident appeals to the EA

After the publication by WODC of the Parish Flood Report on Northmoor, Mr Stuart Cope, a resident in the Standlake Road, Northmoor, wrote on 9th June to Mr Martin Long, Planning Liaison Team Leader for the Thames West Area of the Environment Agency, as follows:

"I have been asked to copy you in on the flooding situation last week.

After the prolonged rain on Tuesday last week I was quite alarmed how quickly the water table rose. We only had around 2-3 inches of rain in our area and this was below the July 2007 rainfall. Within 8 hours of persistent rain the sewage System in Northmoor ceased to work efficiently and the water was bubbling out of the manholes and seeping out of the walls around our house. Fortunately we have taken steps to combat this and we prevented the water from flooding the house again after July 22/07. This is now the 4th time in just under 1 year that this has happened and never in the last 5 years of living at the property.

It is with this is mind that I am very concerned about the potential excavation of gravel from the Stonehenge Site which is in very close proximity to
our property. I have been unable to confirm if the application were granted, if this would make the situation worse in the short or long term. The village of Northmoor is sandwiched between both the Windrush and the Thames and the possibility of gravel excavation seems in my opinion absurd given the complex flows of the ditches and drainage channels that exist within the area in order to aid the flow of water away to the Thames. Before gravel excavation could even be considered we need to have a 100% guarantee that the excavation will not affect this situation for the immediate and long term future of the village and its properties.

I hope my requests and email will be considered."


Kind regards

Stuart Cope

Managing Director

Margaret L Johnson Ltd


Mr Cope received the following reply on 10th June from Mr Long:

"Thank you for your email.

The Environment Agency (EA) has been consulted on this proposal and we have given our formal response to Oxfordshire County
Council (OCC), who are the decision making body. This concludes the EA's involvement in the planning process. You will be able to log onto the OCC website and look up all the details of this application, including the current status of the application. The application will be presented to the Council members in July for a decision. Members of the general public are given an opportunity to comment on any proposal and this should be made formally to the relevant council.

I note the contents of your email and will forward it to my contact at OCC for their information."


Kind regards

Martin Long

Planning Liaison Team Leader
Thames West Area

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Newbridge

Sunday 8th June

The Maybush Pub garden, 5 days after the heavy rainfall of Tuesday 3rd June:














One of the Maybush car parks:














Showing the height of the River Thames flowing towards Newbridge and The Maybush:














Showing the height of the River Thames flowing past the Rose Revived:

David Cameron debates Flooding

On 7th May this year Rt Hon David Cameron MP bought Flooding in West Oxfordshire to a parliamentary debate in the House of Commons.
To read the full report from Hansard
Click Here
A few extracts from his speech:
"... there are times when a particular issue dominates a particular constituency. That is true of west Oxfordshire, my constituency and the floods of last July – not only the problems and clear-up that took place, but the fear that flooding could happen again. In fact ...... it has already happened again ...... I must say to the Minister that every time that there is hard, big rainfall in west Oxfordshire, the fear starts all over again that rivers will burst their banks, that there will be flooding, and that businesses will be hit again. There is large-scale concern about that."

"I shall never forget seeing the biblical scenes of the scale of floods: cars and houses were completely overwhelmed, and in Bablock Hythe, for example, mobile homes floated away. The council distributed 40,000 sandbags and helped enormously with the emergency response and community support. That is the first lesson that I for one learned from the floods: when it came to working with local businesses, organising volunteers and deploying the local knowledge, West Oxfordshire District Council, which is one of the smallest district councils in the country did an extremely good job ....... The fact that it is a small council actually helped, because it was in touch on the ground: it knew the networks and the volunteers and how to get the RAF to help. The council knew its area incredibly well."
"People understand that flash floods are particularly difficult to protect against, but people in my constituency want to know that everything that can be done will be done to reduce the impact of such floods in future. They are not satisfied that everything is being done. There is a general perception that everybody is talking a good game about flood defences and what we need to do for the future, but people fear that not much is actually happening."
"... On the Environment Agency, when one talks to people who have been flooded, one question keeps coming up again and again: why has so little been done to clear out the ditches, dykes and culverts, and why is there so little dredging of rivers and streams compared with the past? I am not a scientist and I am happy to listen to the arguments, but I am not convinced that they are all old wives' tales. There is truth in them, and such activities can make a difference."
"That brings me to my concern about the agency, which arises from dozens of meeting with homeowners, farmers, councillors and those living in affected communities ...... the agency gives too great a weight to animal habitat and not enough to human habitat."

"On some occasions, the Environment Agency has been responsible for clearing; on others, it has not given permission for the necessary clearance. There are too many examples of people saying, “I cannot clear out this ditch, because I've been told that I would be disturbing important habitat.” Of course habitat is important, but in the end, we must try to protect households from flooding."
"My biggest concern is the potential disadvantage at which rural communities are being placed."
"Farmers are another concern in rural areas. A number of farmers who have been flooded again and again have come to see me. They are worried about water being left on the land for such long periods, which is bad for habitat."
"I hope the Minister can give us some answers about the work of the Environment Agency, how we might focus better on flood prevention and what work needs to be carried out locally. Above all, I hope that he can examine the issue of how to help small, sparsely populated rural communities. They have suffered badly, they have shown extraordinary courage and bravery in dealing with it and they want to know that the Government is on their side."

WODC Flooding Report for Northmoor

You may be interested to read the flooding report for Northmoor published this week.

It recommends:

1) 'the Environment Agency to undertake a full floodzone modelling study, including effect of gravel abstraction, of the Windrush delta, including Newbridge Cut and Northmoor New Cut.

Prepare flood control options from the Study conclusions drawn.'

2) 'Hanson's in conjunction with the EA to prepare a satisfactory flood defence solution with regard to their proposed quarrying operations'.

Read this document on Scribd: Northmoor Flood Report

Friday, 6 June 2008

Northmoor Update

On Tuesday 4th June, in response to the heavy rainfall, Michael Ryan, Clerk to Northmoor Parish Council, emailed those living in the locality (slightly selective as many do not have email) and has thus far received the following flooding reports:

Brook Farm - Sewage backing up.
Northmoor Barn - Garage under water.
Park Lodge - Driveway submerged.
Park Farm - Serious flooding throughout the complex (see photos below), including raw sewage.
Rectory Cottage - Garage flooded
Hollyhock Cottage - Water to the top of the brook just outside their front door.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Park Farm Estate, Northmoor

These photos are typical of the way this week’s flooding adversely impacts the various businesses trading at Park Farm, Northmoor. They are just a few from a substantial collection built up over the last few years...

Question: "Re Yesterday's Rain - I would like to know if any property in the village suffered from floodwater as a result of yesterday's heavy rain?" Michael Ryan, Parish Clerk, Northmoor

Answer: "Michael - I was at Park Farm yesterday with Steve Good and can confirm that all the business premises were flooded. One tenant complained that he has been flooded five times in the past eighteen months and on a number of occasions, including yesterday, there has been raw sewage (see photos below) from the village floating around. Insurance claims have recently been settled amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds. I have photos of the flooding on Tuesday evening." Peter Jones, Standlake