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Stand Up For Seaton (SU4S)

Community Action for Seaton's Regeneration Area, 80% owned by Tesco - a floodplain on a World Heritage site bordered by nature reserves, tidal river, the sea and the unspoilt town. SU4S is a state of mind - no members, no structure, no politics. SU4S has objected to 2 planning applications by Tesco, including one for a massive superstore/dot com distribution centre which led to the recent closure on the site of 400 tourist beds with the loss of 150 jobs,a gym and pool - all used by locals.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The trouble with flooding - 4

See yesterdays BBC Gloucs report here

In highlight, residents were concerned about inadequate contigency planning (bowsers and communication) and wanted assurances it wouldn't happen again.
Let alone the £50 million clean-up bill the county of Gloucester (ie its residents) gets.

Anyone want to work out who will pay for the flooding in the regen area....which everyone accepts will happen, even the developer?


Friday, August 24, 2007

Water compatible housing in Amsterdam - the way forward

Having just been to Amsterdam on a (self-financed and unsponsored) flying visit to see an exhibition of water-compatible homes I must say my heart sinks when I come back to see how this sort of thing is handled in the UK.

The exhibition wasn't just homes on water (stunning as they were) there was also an example of public art floating on water, a "hippy home" on water and even a floating library. It made me want to weep to see just how little use we are making of our biggest asset in Seaton.

Inside the exhibition hall were scale models of other developments that can take place in or near water (some of them about to be built, some of them still conceptual). Floating villages, floating churches, floating swimming pools, floating theatres, floating visitor interpretation centre (yes!) - you name it. Even one that looked not unlike the Seaton Eye concept!

We visited one of the floating houses with its designer. The whole house is heated from heat pumps from the surrounding water. It looks as good as any land-borne house and costs (with its mooring) about the same. The only difference - if there is a flood it just rises up with the floodwater (its electricity cables, etc are on coiled leads which can stretch) and then settles down again when the flood water recedes.

And, if you don't like your neighbours, you can up sticks (or rather up house) sell your current mooring to someone else and move on to some other neighbourhood rather like a snail with its house on its back!

The trouble with flooding - 3

From the BBC News 24 website today:

Hull's drainage system was overwhelmed in June when severe flooding affected the area, a report has said. The Independent Review Body's task was to establish the causes but also to see if lessons could be learned to prevent any future floods. The report also raised concerns about the city's storm drain pumps and a lack of co-operation between agencies. Hull was among several parts of the UK to suffer when two bouts of severe flooding struck in June and July. The city was hit in the June floods and saw an estimated 7,000 homes affected, with many of those evacuated.

Increased vulnerability

The interim report, written by senior staff at the University of Hull, looks at the geological reasons for the floods in the city, but also has a critical analysis of the co-operation between the Environment Agency, the city council, and other bodies in the immediate aftermath. The team of experts said the magnitude of the storm was greater than one in every 150 years. Hull's low lying position increased its vulnerability to flooding and the report said there should be additional levels of protection above and beyond a 1-in-30 year storm.

Blocked gullies did not appear to have been a major factor in the general flooding, although there were no contingency plans for the failure of the Bransholme pumping station or appropriate protection from flood waters, it found.

'Humanitarian disaster'

The authors said no one organisation was to blame for the problems, but it was critical of the lack of co-operation between the different agencies during the aftermath of the floods. More in-depth research and analysis will be undertaken by the group to come up with recommendations on the ways flood prevention and response can be improved. A final, more comprehensive, analysis is expected in November.

Hull City Council said at the time of the flooding the city was the victim of a "humanitarian disaster". It earmarked some £18m for repairs to the affected homes.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The problem with floodplains 2...

Extract from the SWENVO website....

Floodplain management
The state of a floodplain is an example of the outcome of natural pressures such as flooding and human pressures such as development. Historically, many settlements grew around river crossing points, which has required subsequent engineering works to try to reduce the flood risk for people and property. These flood defences require costly and ongoing maintenance, but can never completely remove the flood risk.

The flooding of floodplain areas is both a natural and desirable process, where it can occur without risk to human life. The effectiveness of rivers and floodplains to convey and to store flood water, and minimise flood risks, can be adversely affected by human activity, especially by development which physically changesthe floodplain.

According to the Environment Agency, there are five million people and two million properties at risk of flooding in England and Wales. In the South West, this amounts to 100,000 properties and around £20 million being spent a year on flood defence.

More planning authorities are heeding Environment Agency warnings against building on flood plains, although there is still too much inappropriate development taking place in areas of flood risk.

Nationally 21% of planning applications against which the Environment Agency sustained objections in 2002/2003 were over-ruled by planning authorities, although this is an improvement from 37% recorded in 2001/2002.

In the South West, 9% of residential planning applications were for construction on floodplains. There are currently 30,000 properties in the region at risk of flooding, below the national average. 30,000 of these properties currently receive some protection from flooding and the Environment Agency's flood warning system is widely available.


Monday, August 20, 2007

Flooding - what the Assoc of British Insurers thinks

From the BBC website:

According to the ABI [Association of British Insurers], the government needs to spend £150m more on flood defences than it has already earmarked. "Some defences will have been put under great pressure in recent events and will need to be checked and possibly strengthened," the ABI said in its letter, adding that some drains and watercourses were blocked due to inadequate maintenance. This had led to some flooding taking place in areas not identified as being at risk. Mr Hadrill said that "an urgent review is needed of how best to maintain urban and rural drainage". This should include "whether expenditure is adequate, and how to co-ordinate better modelling of flood risk and planning of alleviation measures," he added.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Stand Up For Seaton - the musical!

One of our supporters has written a musical review based on the Stand Up For Seaton story (see poster right) - titled "This is not Las Vegas" (a headline in the Midweek Herald when the origin of developer's money turned out to be the "winnings" partly from being owners of and selling England's second largest casino in the small seaside town of Westcliff-on-Sea. (The Casino started off life as the town's leisure centre!).

This promises to be an amazing evening - of song, dance and general mayhem.

It has its serious side - to remind people that the fight against this development continues and that we must not let down our guard.

Tickets are available from here or ring 01297 625439.
Any profit will go to a "fighting fund" should we need to take the developer on in a planning inquiry or judicial review. If the money is NOT needed for this it will be spent on a youth project in the town.

Roll up, roll up and get your tickets for the event of year!

Friday, August 17, 2007

This Is Not Las Vegas - 1st night

Playing to a full house, the extraordinary folk acting out the story of ordinary folk in an ordinary town pulled off a stunning performance and did all the superlatives they hadn't dreamed off a week ago.
Elvis turned in a lip-curling performance from the moment the first pair of panties arrived from the audience, to his stunned, sorry, stunning performance at the end.

The entire cast and support crew threw everything into the musical and made it happen...and now they're going to do it again....tonight.

If you haven't got tickets, get some, go along and join in!

Also available are tickets to the "after-show" party on Saturday, so if you can't make the performances, come and meet the cast!

Orders are also being taken for the book of cartoons from this blog and show T-shirts, again, all profits go to the cause.


Friday, August 10, 2007

The problem with floodplains....

Well we've been a little quiet, but after all this is the time of year the journos call "silly season", ie looking for fantastic tales to fill the column inches....anyone reading the local press over the past week will appreciate the truth in that aphorism.
So let's just roll back a little and look at floodplains, not very long ago our MP, the Rt Hon Hugo Swire was reported as being concerned about the problems with expanding Cranbrook because of the problems with the floodplain. A laudable sentiment, we trust our local MP remembers that our little regen plan is on a floodplain too.
So what is his problem with floodplains? Quite simply put, it's the current governement allowing building control to be lax enough for development on a floodplain to happen.
OK that's the political bit, beyond reminding you all that this is OUR MP talking about Cranbrook...not Seaton..you draw your own conclusions, I couldn't possibly comment.

So let's look at an expert opinion instead, 'cause I'm sure to be targetted for new defamatory spin if I didn't....


'Fallen short'
Experts are warning it is likely that such flooding will happen again in the future. Bob Spicer, professor of earth sciences at the Open University, said human activity was one of the causes of the floods.
"One of the reasons why we've got this catastrophic flooding is that we've spent an awful lot of time building on floodplains." He said concreting floodplains "overwhelms the surface channels and the sewage systems and we get floods". "Floodplains are called floodplains for a reason - they flood. That tends to be where we build, because it's easier." The Environment Agency has in place 18 severe flood warnings and 97 standard flood warnings. A recent report from the National Audit Office said the Environment Agency had fallen short in the area of flood defences. It said that overall there had been little improvement in the past six years and that the agency was missing its targets.

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