To consider and decide on the recommendations as set out in the attached report.
REASON FOR DECISION:
To increase storage of flood water that would reduce the risk to homes and businesses in Tonbridge and Hildenborough.
Sharon Evans, Principal Planning Policy Officer introduced this report to agree amendments to the River Medway (Flood Relief Act) 1976 and to send a letter to DEFRA to approve the expansion of the Leigh Flood Storage Area. There was also a presentation by Kathy Aucott and James Kennedy from the Environment Agency. It included the following comments:
- A consultation was currently being carried out by the Environment Agency on a proposed change to the stored water level at the Leigh Flood Storage Area.
- The change would increase the capacity of the Storage Area in order to reduce flood risk to residents and businesses in Tonbridge and Hildenborough. It also affected a small area of land in the Parish of Biddborough, part of Tunbridge Wells Borough area.
- The current maximum level of water that could be stored was 28.05m.
- Following the damaging floods in 2013/14 considerable work had been undertaken by the Environment Agency to pursue robust flood mitigations to prevent future flooding.
- The proposed change would increase capacity of the flood storage area to 28.60m.
- In order to achieve this change an additional 16.4 hectares of land around the edge of the current flood storage area would be needed to accommodate an extra 24% of flood water. Discussions continued with land owners and land brought in to the new area might be eligible for compensation for any damage.
- The Environment Agency had confirmed that with regard to the impact of the expansion on areas downstream, the expansion would allow more water upstream which would reduce the likelihood of flooding downstream.
- A submission to DEFRA on the proposed changes would be submitted in January 2020. A month was given to allow for any objections. If none were received, a decision could be taken to approve the scheme. Planning permission would then be sought in spring 2020.
Discussion and responses to members questions included the following matters:
- Paddock Wood Parish Council had not been consulted on the scheme as they were not affected by the flood storage area.
- The terms of any compensation were set out in the Medway Flood Relief Act. Individual claims for compensation were negotiated with each land/property owner.
- There were 2 residential properties involved in the proposed expansion scheme and the Environment Agency were consulting with them. There were no areas that were considered a risk to life.
- The release of water following the flooding in 2013 had a detrimental effect in Yalding and Capel. The risk would be decreased once the expansion had been implemented. The benefit would not be the same as for Tonbridge but there would be a small measurable benefit. The scheme was unlikely to have an impact on the length of time the land would be flooded. However the impact of climate change could result in floods being bigger and as such no guarantees could be given. The investment would improve the ability of the Environment Agency and partners to reduce ... view the full minutes text for item 104