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The Jubilee River story - RBWM Flood Monitoring Report (March 2006)







1.              PURPOSE OF REPORT


To provide an update on flooding actions, pursuant to the Motion agreed by Council, and to report on the on-going work of the Thames Flood Forum (TFF). 


2.              MEMBER’S RECOMMENDATION: That the flooding actions and the TFF process be noted.


3.1              Wards Affected

All Riverside wards in the Borough.


3.2              Relevant Matters Upon Which Decision is Based


3.2.1              Council, in June 2004, agreed the following Motion in relation to flooding: "That this Council, as proposed in the FRAG report, will undertake a program of action to help protect vulnerable residents from avoidable flooding risk. The action shall include, but not be limited to: a scheduled program of gully and ditch clearance for Council owned gullies and ditches,      a strategy for enforcement of riparian responsibilities for privately owned gullies and ditches,      co-operation with the Environment Agency to secure publication and establishment of maintenance regimes for non-Thames watercourses, and that Cabinet shall receive a quarterly monitoring report of these actions and others, especially those of the Environment Agency,

              taken to reduce flooding risk."

3.2.2              Members were provided with summaries of the actions that the Council had embarked upon in relation to improving the communication of flood risk in previous Flooding Monitoring Reports. These included details with regard to the establishment of a web page on the Council’s web site, and the information contained on the web page was outlined. The publication of a Council leaflet was also reported, which is designed to give people a better understanding of the causes of flooding, who is responsible for what in flooding situations, what steps people should take to protect property and possessions, and what assistance can be reasonably expected from different agencies. This leaflet has been widely distributed, including placing copies in the ‘flood libraries’ established at Maidenhead and Old Windsor libraries, and in the reception areas of the Borough’s administrative buildings. Copies of the leaflet have also been sent to all Parish Councils and Flood Wardens.

3.2.3              Additional tasks undertaken by the Council were also reported and these included the strategic storage and distribution of sandbags, the deployment of officers to patrol the Borough at strategic points along the river front during times of flood, and the preparation of traffic regulation and road closure plans in advance of any flooding. Prior to the on-set of winter, the Borough’s Emergency Planning Officer liaised further with the riverside Parish Councils regarding the stock piles of sand bags that were established. Co-ordination meetings continue to be held with the Environment Agency, local flood wardens and other groups to clarify roles, and a hotline has been established for the reporting and monitoring of flooding.


3.2.4              The Operations Unit continue to meet with flood wardens to review and discuss issues and procedures, and also with parishes to review and discuss the flood warden scheme. Names and contact details of flood wardens has been published so residents in the area know who to contact, and a leaflet on flood wardens has also been produced and distributed. The schedule of gully and ditch clearance for Council owned gullies and ditches is also operated and continually monitored by the Operations Unit.


3.2.5              Briefings and meetings also continue to be take place between the Council’s Operations Unit and the utility companies to discuss responses during and after a flood, and a series of successful emergency planning exercises have also taken place.


3.2.6              The Council has received a small number of enquiries in relation to the Land Drainage Policy, which was adopted by Cabinet in October, 2004. These enquiries have been dealt with. The policy set out enforcement powers available to the Borough for taking enforcement action on ordinary (riparian owned) watercourses, the criteria in which enforcement will be applied and the procedure for enforcing. Information on the policy has been made available through a leaflet and is also on the Council’s web site, including the relevant contact details for Officers, how to obtain help and advice, and contact information for other relevant agencies. Information relating to land drainage problems is also held on a database within the Operations Unit.


              Critical Ordinary Watercourses


3.2.7              Following a review of Flood and Coastal Defence funding carried out by the Government, it was decided that ordinary watercourses that had the potential to put large numbers of people at risk of flooding, would be classified as Critical Ordinary Watercourses (COWS), and that such watercourses would be enmained (become main river).


3.2.8              Four COWS have been identified in the Royal Borough, namely the Burfield Road Ditch, Old Windsor; the Bourne Ditch, Windsor; the Horton Drain; and the Wraysbury Drain. The downstream lengths of the Burfield Road Ditch (649m) and the Bourne Ditch (4486m) will be enmained in April 2006 and the Environment Agency will become responsible for these watercourses.                             


3.2.9              The enmainment of the Horton Drain and the Wraysbury Drain has been delayed by legal technicalities presented by Inclosure Awards made in 1799. These Awards make the Royal Borough responsible for the maintenance of the Horton Drain, although as this watercourse meets the COWS criteria, it is envisaged that it will be enmained, along with the Wraysbury Drain, shortly.


3.2.10              A detailed feasibility study on the condition of the Horton Drain was completed in October 2005, and identified, and prioritised possible improvement works. Tenders have recently been invited for the completion of some improvement works, based on the priorities set out in the study, and these works will include significant clearance of vegetation along the route of the Drain, together with the reconstruction of the weir structure at the junction of the Horton Drain and Wraysbury Drain. The tenders are due to be returned at the end of February, and the works are provisionally programmed to start in April.    

              Replacement Of Highway Drain Outfall, Western End Of Cookham High Street


3.2.11              The existing outfall to the highway drain at the western end of Cookham High Street has collapsed and this has lead to serious flooding of the highway following heavy rainfall. Construction of a replacement outfall to alleviate flooding at this location has recently commenced utilising  the Royal Borough’s Highways and Capital Works Term Contractor. Approximately 100m of 300mm diameter pipework will be laid to replace the highway drain outfall, and it is anticipated that these works will take approximately four weeks to complete.


              Wraysbury and Horton Self Help Group For Flooding


3.2.12              The Royal Borough’s Emergency Planning Officer has recently attended a number of positive meetings with Ward Councillors, Members of Wraysbury and Horton Parish Councils, and local residents, to discuss the formation of a Self Help Group for Flooding. The intention of the group is to prepare, test and validate a local action plan to be utilised during flood emergencies. Upon completion, the action plan will be shared with other riverside communities, so that they can consider adopting similar action plans  


              The Thames Flood Forum (TFF)


3.2.13              The previous Flooding Monitoring Report presented to Cabinet in December reported on the last meeting of the TFF in November 2005. This was the first meeting of the newly named TFF (formerly the Flood Risk Action Group – FRAG), under the chairmanship of Tom Crossett. The previous monitoring report summarised the issues and main areas that the TFF had considered at this meeting, and it also reported on the establishment of a Steering Group for the purpose of managing the business between the main TFF meetings. The Steering Group comprises representation from the local Authorities of the Royal Borough, Runnymede, Spelthorne, and Kingston, the Environment Agency, and the community groups from the TFF. The Chairman is Tom Crossett and the Group has a maximum of eight members.


3.2.14              The first meeting of the Steering Group was held in late January 2006. The Group considered a number of issues arising from the main TFF meeting held in November 2005. One of these issues was in relation to the membership of the TFF and it was agreed that all Member Organisations, other than the Local Authorities, Environment Agency, and Utility representation, should be requested to state their terms of reference, activities and membership details, including geographic and topic areas of interest.


3.2.15              In addition, as the TFF was a single body representing the interests of the community along the River Thames, the Steering Group also discussed the challenge of securing participation from communities with an interest in the risk of flooding that were generally satisfied with policies and programmes, and as a result were reluctant to participate in the process, either because they had not recently suffered the loss and trauma of flooding or because ignorance of their degree of risk. The role and involvement of Parish Councils were considered and the Group noted that whilst there were parish councils within the Royal Borough, there were no parished areas within the Boroughs of Runnymede and Spelthorne. Hence, the lack of parish representation in the lower part of the Thames was noted, and the importance of addressing the issue of raising awareness of flood risk in this area of the Thames was highlighted by the Group as key action point for the TFF at future meetings.     


3.2.16              A further key area discussed by the Steering Group was publicity. The TFF had agreed at its November meeting that future meetings of the main TFF should be open to the press and public to attend. The Chairman had prepared a press release for publication, and the Group agreed that this should be issued. The press release had been produced by the Chairman, and was released through the Royal Borough’s Corporate Communications Team on 1 February 2006. A copy is enclosed as appendix A to this report for information.


3.2.17              It had been suggested at the TFF meeting in November that a special meeting should be held to consider the Government Consultation Document on Planning Policy Statement 25 (PPS25): Development and Flood Risk. At that time, the Chairman indicated that he would consider this further. The Steering Group agreed that a special meeting of the main TFF should be held, to provide the Forum with an opportunity to make a response to the consultation, and this took place on Wednesday 22 February at the Civic Offices of Runnymede Borough Council.


3.2.18              The special meeting received a presentation from Mr Peter Bide, who had played a major part in the development of the proposals at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM). A member of the Planning Liaison Group that brings together the Environment Agency and Local Authorities in the TFF was also present at the meeting. Members of the TFF were then invited to discuss the proposals and they welcomed the new policies in principle because of their clarity and potential to reduce the number of properties being built in the flood plain. It was also recognised that although the new policies were stricter, they still gave communities flexibility to secure development plans that were appropriate to their needs. However, the TFF did express concern in relation to the difficulty facing local authorities to undertake the required risk assessments fast enough to avoid disruption. In addition, Members of the TFF indicated that some of the terms used in the new policies needed to be defined even more clearly if developers, local authorities, and the Environment Agency were to work together efficiently. At the conclusion of the meeting, the TFF agreed to submit a joint response to the consultation.             


3.2.19              The Steering Group also briefly considered the content of future Environment Agency Updates to TFF meetings.  It was noted that future reports would contain updates on the Strande Lane Scheme, MWEFAS capacity study, MWEFAS operating procedures, Thames dredging and Flood Defence, phase 3 of the Lower Thames Study, Flood Warning Systems, and Maintenance. The Group also considered the importance of the Agency’s flood risk maps, and agreed that this should be a specific agenda item at the next ‘ordinary’ meeting of the TFF in May 2006.


3.2.20              Further to the TFF meeting in November 2005, the Group also noted that the Chairman was seeking to secure the attendance of an appropriate DEFRA representative to attend a TFF meeting to discuss the ‘Making Space For Water’ delivery plan. He was also working on securing the attendance of an appropriate representative from DEFRA and/or Environment Agency in relation to groundwater flooding. In relation to insurance, the Chairman was also liasing with the ABI to invite a representative to attend a TFF meeting.   


3.2.21              Work was also underway in relation to re-vamping the TFF website. This was being undertaken by John Godden of Runnymede Borough Council, and work in this area was on-going. A further update would be presented to the next TFF meeting in May.


3.2.22              The next meeting of the main TFF will be held on Wednesday 17 May 2006, commencing at 6.30pm in the Civic Offices of Runnymede Borough Council in Addlestone, Surrey. The next Flooding Monitoring Report, scheduled to be presented to Cabinet in June, will report on this meeting, together with providing details and an update on works being undertaken by the Environment Agency.


              Maidenhead Windsor and Eton Flood Alleviation Scheme (MWEFAS) Operating Procedures


3.2.23              The Environment Agency has recently published an updated version of the MWEFAS Operating Procedures. There is a significant change in the new operating rules in that the current assessment of the capacity of the Jubilee River, maintaining a minimum of 300m freeboard, has now been increased to 170 cumecs (from 145 cumecs). The operating rules have been amended to allow a maximum flow of 170 cumecs to be diverted into the Jubilee River.


3.2.24              The ‘trigger’ level, at which the diversion of flow into the Jubilee River will commence, remains the same (when the combined flow in the Jubilee River at Taplow and The River Thames at Maidenhead has reached 190 cumecs). The manner in which flows will be diverted into the Jubilee River remains similar, i.e. initially in 20 cumecs increments, and then in smaller increments as the capacity of the Jubilee River is approached.


3.2.25              The updated Operating Rules relating to the diversion of flows into the Jubilee River are similar to the rules that were in place in January 2003, the ‘trigger’ level being the same and the initial diversion of flows in 20 cumces increments also being the same. The diversion of flows in smaller increments near the peak, and the assessment of peak capacity are however new.


              Hurley Drainage Scheme


3.2.26              The Hurley Drainage Scheme in Hurley High Street has previously experienced flooding and this has caused significant internal damage to private properties, including the Ye Olde Bell Hotel. There is an old culvert that crosses the rear garden of the hotel, which takes the drainage from Hurley High Street and Shepherd Lane. There is also a ditch downstream from this piped system that is probably the outfall, but this is currently in poor condition. The road culvert is also intersected by the PU service mains, which potentially restricts the flows in times of flood.


3.2.27              Preliminary surveys and cleaning works were carried out by a specialist contractor in July 2005, following which a programme of proposed works was determined. Negotiations with the hotel were necessary in relation to these works and there was also a further provisional agreement reached with them to carry out any necessary major works resulting from the investigations.


3.2.28              The proposed works are underway, and will be carried out in a prioritised sequence. Phase I will dig out the ditch at outfall (in private land), and construct 2 new catchpits in the garden of the hotel to allow access for cleaning. It will also clean the existing culvert with high pressure jetting and remove any silt, and identify sections of the culvert to be repaired with CCTV equipment. Phase 2 will comprise construction of a new culvert in Hurley High Street, and divert water and SEC services, and Phase 3 will reconstruct the culvert and chambers in Shepherd Lane.   



              Marsh Lane Control Structure: Model Visit


3.2.29              The Council received an invitation from the Environment Agency for its Riverside Ward Members to have the opportunity to visit the model of the Marsh Lane Control Structure. The model was a 1:40 scale representation of the structure, which is located 2.5km downstream of the Taplow Sluice Gates on the Jubilee River. Marsh Lane Weir itself consists primarily of two tilting fish-belly gates supported by a surrounding reinforced concrete structure.


3.2.30              The reach of the river modelled consisted of a 300m stretch of river upstream of the structure and continues for 250m downstream. The topography of this river stretch, and the channel bed, is informed by recent survey data provided to HR Wallingford at design stage. The model was located in Froude Hall, a purpose built model testing facility located beside HR Wallingford’s offices within Howberry Park, Wallingford.


3.2.31              The visit took place on Tuesday 14 February, and Members were met by representatives of the Environment Agency who ran the model through different scenerios, conveying an agreed range of flows along the study reach and through the structure. The Environment Agency gave the Council very short notice of its invitation and this is regrettable as some Members were unable to attend due to already having commitments on that day.  The Agency has expressed its apologies for the short notice provided. Its contract with HR Wallingford for this particular project expired on 15 February, which unfortunately meant that an alternative date could not be arranged.


3.2.32              However, the Agency has confirmed that a full report on the outcome of the work undertaken on this model will shortly be published, and this will be a public document.


3.3              Relevant Council Policies/Strategies








5.              IMPLICATIONS


5.1              Financial, Planning and Legal


              None arising from report.


5.2              Human Rights Act


              Article 1 of the First Protocol – the protection of property – may be affected by the policy statement on sandbags. Any interference must be proportionate and in accordance with the law.


              Background Papers: Agenda and Accompanying Documents for the FRAG/TFF meeting held on 21 November 2005; Updated MWEFAS Operating Procedures;




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