Wednesday, 11 July 2012


Ottery St Mary
Ottery St Mary has a history of flooding: in recent years, August 1997, September 1997, September 1998, October 2005, November 2005, October 2008, and now 7 July 2012. Aggregate Industries need to be aware just how much it can rain here, and how much water they would have to manage if they quarried Straitgate Farm.

Flood water in Cadhay Bog
The Environment Agency on the other hand is very much aware of how much it can rain here, and on Sunday Richard Cresswell, the Environment Agency director for the South West, briefed Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, on the measures being taken to protect Ottery. When Mrs Spelman stood in front of the newly completed flood relief channel at Thorne Farm estate, however, and proudly recounted to the press how this government-funded measure had saved 60 properties from flooding (by coping with all the water coming down from Straitgate through Cadhay Bog), did she know what Aggregate Industries and Devon County Council were planning further upstream that could endanger this scheme and the properties it protects?

Still flooding from Cadhay Wood
several hours later
Residents around Cadhay do not yet have the benefit of any flood defences, and, well after the rains had stopped, water from Cadhay Wood was still flooding out over the road opposite the drive to Cadhay House. This is the stream where Aggregate Industries have in the past planned to discharge run-off from a quarry at Straitgate. If removing groundwater storage or compacting the ground increases the run-off though Cadhay Wood in times of extreme weather, it is not difficult to predict negative consequences. These photographs, taken on 7 July, show how much water Aggregate Industries would need to manage after 50mm of rain. The Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, however, predicts an increase in heavy rainfall events over the next few decades. Any plans for Straitgate Farm would, according to the Environment Agency, need to be "...subject to a scheme being submitted for the management of surface water that will safely manage the ‘1 in 100 year plus climate change’ rainfall for the lifetime of the development", and furthermore "any development of this site should seek opportunities to reduce these risks of flooding...".