Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Stink for Spaldington Residents

With David Davis MP in Spaldington with Compost maturation heap in the background

At a meeting with Spaldington residents today I was informed that yesterday morning (Sat) the local composter had been removing 'composted' material from his farm buildings to maturation heaps in the fields near his farm. These movements are thought to have caused the foul smell that engulfed the area. I was also informed that the composter gave a two fingered greeting to the residents as they slowed their vehicle to observe what was happening.

The meeting was after I’d received a number of calls and emails from Spaldington residents regarding the smell being generated by the movement of this so called compost, especially on a Saturday so close to the Christmas holiday.

I have subsequently spoken to Environment Agency and also the ERYC Public Protection.

The current position regarding composing in the Spaldington Area

At the beginning of November I attended a meeting with a number of Spaldington residents and Jan Davie, the Environment Agency’s Environment Manager for East Yorkshire. This was a very productive meeting where the Agency was able to provide feedback on their activities and listen to the concerns of the community.

The Agency have since began a full audit of the composting and land spreading activities carried out at a Spaldington Farm which is to include an investigation of the types, quantities and source of all the material taken in over the last twelve months. Although some of the concerns relate to animal health issues and the risks associated with importing animal wastes into a farming area, which are not directly under the control of the Environment Agency, assurances have been given that the Agency are in regular contact with the Animal Health Agency (formerly the State Vets Service) and are committed to raising residents concerns.

A working group consisting of those agencies with regulatory responsibility for the composting industry has been established, these include representatives of ERYC’s Planning, Animal Health and Environmental Health, the Animal Health Agency and the Environment Agency. It is acknowledged that it is vital these organisations work together in this area to deal with residents concerns. This group met for the first time on 28th November.

It has been confirmed that ERYC Environment and Transport Overview and Scrutiny Committee is have the opportunity to scrutinise the regulation of the Agricultural Composting issue as per the motion at it’s meeting to be held in March.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Gilberdyke - Flooding update

With Gilberdyke Flood Action Group Chairman Yvonne Terry on Gilberdyke's Station Road

At last weeks meeting of the Gilberdyke Flood Action Group the discussion centred on the disturbing news that the Environment Agency has moved the goal posts, and performed a U turn regarding funding of local flood defence projects through the Medium Term Plan (MTP) application process. A number of questions were raised regarding the actions of the Environment Agency, Natural England, DEFRA, the ERYC and the Lower Ouse Internal Drainage Board, before and after the June 25th floods.

There was concern that six months on after the floods, as far as the various agencies were concerned, Gilberdyke was turning into the forgotten village. It was established that there are some 31 houses that will still not be habitable before Christmas, and the residents of 13 of these properties are living in not large static, but small touring caravans.

The group had invited Mr Graham Bate of A & F Consulting Engineers to discuss the flooding problems and look to finding a permanent solution. The discussion focussed on a number of key issues such as increased building on land that had been historically wet, householders filling in dykes over the years, and the concretisation of much of the village. It was established that Westbrook Road and Station Road must be the priority areas as this was where the majority of the house flooding occurred in June, and that these houses had become very close to flooding in the recent past.

But it was acknowledged that without the water being able to run from the village down to the river at Blacktoft, very little useful flood defence work within the village would be possible. It was deemed imperative that the Environment Agency funds the MTP application to widen and deepen the dykes down to Blacktoft and provide a pumping station to lift the water into the river.

Gilberdyke Flood Action Group Chairman, Yvonne Terry says, “Yes, there was excessive rainfall on the 25th June, but what was abundantly clear was the inadequacies of the existing infrastructure for drainage/sewerage/drains to cope with a volume of water, Gilberdyke being one of many places. It doesn’t matter how few or how many houses were flooded, any house flooded is not good enough. The authorities have a responsibility to ensure flooding is stopped; the Environment Agency are reneging on their responsibilities if they do not fund all of these Medium Term Plan schemes”.

Yvonne continues, ”Taxes, rates and levies have all been taken from us over many years and yet the fabric of our infrastructure has been allowed to be neglected and cannot cope with the requirements of modern society and climate change. There is no question; increased funding has to be found to deliver all these local flood defence projects”.

Cllr Paul Robinson adds, “I have seen flood victims in many parts of Hull and the East Riding, some of which have moved back into their properties, some are still in caravans or rented accommodation, some sleeping upstairs whilst living in a caravan during the day, some staying with relatives, and some people that lived with the mess as they did not want to or could not move out. But I am most concerned that those residents, particularly those in bungalows like we see down Gilberdyke’s Station Road, who are going to be spending Christmas in small caravans parked in their front gardens. The days and nights over the Christmas period could be a sad and quiet time for some of Gilberdyke’s residents”.