Monday, November 19, 2007

Environment Agency moves the goalposts on flood defence funding

At a recent public meeting held in North Cave with Mr Peter Holmes of the Environment Agency (EA), residents were dismayed to hear that the Environment Agency appears to have ‘moved the goalposts’ for flood defence funding applications.Under threat are the two applications for flood defence projects worth over £1.5million submitted to the Environment Agency for Medium Term Plan (MTP) funding. The two Howdenshire areas, namely North Cave, and the Lower Ouse Internal Drainage Board area including the villages of Gilberdyke, Blacktoft, Eastrington and Laxton now face an agonising wait.

I am reliably informed that during DEFRA/Environment Agency training workshop held in June of this year, the participants were told that any application with a scoring of over 20 on their predetermined scale would have been ‘favourable for approval’ and the two subsequent applications from the flood-hit areas above scored well into the 20’s.

It now appears that there has been a shifting of the goal posts, as during the North Cave meeting, Mr Peter Holmes stated that figure has been raised to the high 20’s or even as high as 30, effectively ruling out these two applications.

If this is the case does this indicate the Environment Agency are now looking at ways to accommodate the current MTP applications into the funding that was available prior to the flooding in June 2007? This smacks of fitting flood defence work into existing funding rather than increasing the funding for the work required as promised by Central Government.

This is potentially very bad news for Gilberdyke, Blacktoft, Laxton and Eastrington who were hoping the MTP application would be used to fund the £1.4million flood prevention scheme, to include dyke widening, new dykes and a new pumping station.

Phil Garland, North Cave Resident and Chairman of the Parish Flood Committee in the village adds, "As a village we must all have serious worries over the commitment of the EA towards the flood protection of rural communities. The insistence by the EA for us to look to a flood defence scheme part funded via our own fundraising and part funded by Local Authority money is ludicrous. If the beck and drainage had been adequately maintained we wouldnot be in this situation. This is, in my opinion, just another example of a government department that is under funded and is over run with middle management bureaucracy and will have a detrimental effect on our village and lives.

"Phil continues, "The opinion of the Environment Agency with regards to our MTP application is disappointing, however the community has been thrown a lifeline where the work required in North Cave could be funded by a scheme under the local levy funding route. We are committed now to working extremely closely with the Agency and their consultants to produce a flood defence scheme that will, if funding is granted, protect the future of our village."

“Having spoken to fellow Councillors, MPs and residents alike there is a shared frustration that the Environment Agency are still maintaining the following position: ‘Because of the rainfall on June 25th 2007, whatever preventative routine maintenance work on watercourses and facilities that should have been carried out previously - would have made little or no difference to the flooding that occurred on the day’. In my view this is clearly becoming an ever more untenable position to take, as more and more contradictory anecdotal evidence comes to light that if the work that should have been carried out had been, houses would have been saved as the extent of the flooding was mitigated.”

David Davis MP adds, “I am concerned that, especially in North Cave, the cost of the flood defence work required is relatively small compared with the costs incurred by householders and their insurance companies as a result of the damage caused by June 25th floods. I have written to the Environment Agency asking for an explanation as to why Howdenshire villages may well lose out to a shortfall in Government funding for flood defences.”

Please see link below to Yorkshire Post Article:

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Composting Motion unanimously approved

My composting motion to the full meeting of East Riding of Yorkshire Council was today approved by a unanimous decision. I would like to thank my fellow Councillors from all parties for their support.

I would also like to acknowledge the help of ERYC officers for their help and guidance in bringing this motion forward.

Hopefully the review of the composting industry will now take place in the early part of next year.

But today was only the beginning of the process to ensure that the Composting Industry is rigorously monitored and the regulation of the processes, especially the range of material composted, the geographic origin, the storage, and the days and methods of spreading are brought out into the open, that the composters conform to ALL regulations, and that the rights of local residents are paramount.

Also see the story in today's Yorkshire Post at the following link:

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Composting Update - motion to East Riding of Yorkshire Council

Continuing from the previous post...... I have tabled the following motion to the East Riding of Yorkshire Council's Full Council meeting to be held on Wednesday 14 November 2007

That this Council asks the Environment and Transport Overview and Scrutiny Committee to look at a review of the agricultural composting industry as a matter of urgency and how this affects the East Riding in particular. The review should include the monitoring and regulation of the processes, especially the range of material composted, the geographic origin, the storage, and the days and methods of spreading

This should have the effect of bringing forward the review to look into this diabolical situation.

The press coverage of agricultural Composting in the Yorkshire Post has been very interesting this last few days and can be veiwed at the following three links:

Many thanks to Chris Benfield at the Yorkshire Post for taking up this issue.