Tuesday, 5 January 2016

"...we are moving into a period of unknown extremes"

Watercourses originating from Straitgate pass though four communities downstream; communities that are prone to flooding. Any quarrying at Straitgate Farm must not make the situation worse, either during work or afterwards. DCC has requested that any plans make the situation better. How this could be so, with the loss of millions of gallons of groundwater storage capacity in the unsaturated layer of sand and gravel on top of the hill above these communities, remains to be seen.

The EA's flood defence scheme at Thorne Farm Way in Ottery St Mary was completed in 2012, following flooding from the Cadhay Bog watercourse in 2008 - when 6.3 inches of precipitation fell in 3 hours, a total of 7.4 inches over 27 hours. What has come out of the dreadful Christmas flooding in the North of England is that the EA says we need a "complete rethink" on UK flood preparations in the face of climate change and extreme weather events. In the Cumbria floods of 2009, 12.3 inches of rain fell in single day. In December 2015, this record was surpassed when Honister recorded 13.4 inches in the same period. In Keswick, the new £6 million flood defences built to withstand the 2009 highs were overwhelmed. The Mayor of Keswick said: "The flood defences were designed for a one in 100 year event and since it's six years since we had the last one, we were sort of surprised that we got one so soon". The EA deputy chief executive admitted: "We are in a period of known extremes and we are moving into a period of unknown extremes".

Any flood mitigation at Straitgate must therefore be more robust than that planned in 1968, when 5 inches of rain fell in one day in East Devon; downstream communities will know exactly who to blame if not. AI's plans inspire little confidence; it's clear the company hasn't fully grasped what's at stake.