Five-point plan to reduce flood risk in Essex

Published: 7 March 2014 at 12:26

Council planning experts to discuss key issues at Anglia Ruskin’s Chelmsford campus

Experts will discuss a five-point plan to cut flood risk at an event to mark the 10th anniversary of Anglia Ruskin University delivering planning training to local councils and organisations.

The event, at Anglia Ruskin’s Chelmsford campus on Wednesday, 12 March, will feature workshops focusing on flood risk management, climate change adaptation and sustainable urban drainage – issues which have received significant attention following the recent flooding in Southern England.

Mark Geddes, engineering director at Richard Jackson Intelligent Engineering, and landscape architect Liz Lake are the guest speakers, and together will set out a five-point plan (below) on what they think needs to be done to avoid more serious flooding in future.

  • Planning and planners have a big part to play in reducing flood risk, as do a large number of other agencies working together.
  • The focus on river dredging may help the Somerset Levels but the route to cutting flood risk is far more complex, with local solutions for different areas of the country.
  • Greater awareness is needed to assess the actual level of risk at each site to avoid inappropriate development on areas that would increase flood risk.  A blanket ban on development in the areas with some level of flood risk would blight wide areas, including most of the East Anglian coast.
  • The Government needs to implement delayed 2010 legislation (Flood and Water Management Act Schedule 3) to require all new developers to include ‘sustainable drainage’ measures that prevent additional run-off and additional flood risk.
  • Flood mitigation measures should form part of multifunctional landscapes where agriculture, recreation and biodiversity benefits are all taken into account.  On site flood defence solutions risk ‘sterilising’ important public spaces.  Also, the public need a better understanding that temporarily flooding areas of less productive countryside may be part of a strategy to protect exposed towns and villages.

Lewis Herbert, of Anglia Ruskin’s Engineering and the Built Environment department, said:

“It is timely that the 10th anniversary training event is about the vital role that planners can play in reducing flood risk.
“The training session’s ‘five-point plan’ will not stop our increasingly erratic weather, but it can help planners reduce the number of homes that will be flooded and the heartache and financial loss that causes.  Planners can also help in educating developers and residents, as everyone can contribute to cutting future flood risk.
“These training events are just as vital for architects, construction professionals and environmental consultants across the East of England, and we will be rolling out a further series of intensive half-day training sessions for them this summer.”

Wednesday’s event marks the 10th year that Anglia Ruskin has delivered skills training for Essex council planning officers.  In partnership with the Essex Planning Officers Association (EPOA), over 500 officers have now been trained, including members of all 15 local authorities, the 12 district councils, Southend and Thurrock unitary councils and Essex County Council.

Special guests on Wednesday are planning chiefs from three local councils; Dianne Cooper (Harlow), Steve Rogers (Castle Point) and John Preston (Epping).

Preston, Chairman of the EPOA, said:

“These training days have been effective, both from a financial perspective, but also in receiving positive feedback from those who have attended and from their managers.  They have now reached their 10th year, which is worthy of celebration.  Here is to another 10 years!”

In addition to providing specialist courses for those working in the sector, Anglia Ruskin offers a number of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in areas including Engineering, Construction Management, Civil Engineering, Surveying and Architecture.

Any planners or built environment professionals who would like further information, or who would like to attend on Wednesday, should call Lewis Herbert on 07748 536153.