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Northampton’s flood defences among best in country

An independent review by Scott Wilson has found that Northampton has one of the best standards of flood defences in the country, the Environment Agency has said.

The Northampton Standards of Protection Review, published this week, is the culmination of 10 months of detailed studies by international design and engineering consultants Scott Wilson.

The review looked at the improved flood defences built by the Environment Agency in the centre of Northampton after the floods of Easter 1998. The review has confirmed that the defences continue to offer the 0.5% (1 in 200 chance) standard of protection they were designed to provide.

One of the findings of the review was that although all defences were in good condition, some sections would benefit from improvement.

This is the finding of an independent review commissioned by the Regional Flood Defence Committee, working with local people, 12 years on from flooding in the town.

The objectives of the study were to review the standard of protection both now and for the future taking into account climate change and to make any recommendations.

The flood defences which help to protect the Far Cotton and St James areas of Northampton took three years to construct and cost approximately £7M. They were completed in 2003.

During construction of the defences, existing walls were raised and new walls and embankments were built. In addition, the channel capacity was significantly improved and a number of obstructions to the flow of water were removed. A new flood warning system was also installed.

Regional Flood Defence Committee chairman Robert Caudwell said: “The findings of this in-depth report confirm that the centre of Northampton is one of the best protected areas outside of central London.

“It shows that the defences would still reduce the risk through the centre of the town from a flood with a 1 in 200 chance of happening although ongoing maintenance work will be needed to ensure this standard of protection is maintained.”

Readers' comments (2)



  • Nene Flood Prevention Alliance:
    The above statement issued by the Regional Flood Defence Committee and the Environment Agency is premature and awaits independent consideration. The following Press Release has been forwarded to all media earlier today and expresses concern that such assertions are being made, prior to the agreed and arranged meeting set to consider the Scott Wilson findings.
    Alan E. Hames C.Eng.,MICE, MCIHT

    ________________________________________
    Embargo: Immediate Issued by: John Goodall 01604 637952

    Contacts: Alan E. Hames C.Eng., MICE, MCIHT
    NFPA Engineering Consultant 07968 030211 - 01604 846005
    Roger Kingston, Northants Residents Alliance 07872 064080

    Environment Agency Report “Flood Defence standards of Northampton,” Premature release of report before Community consultation process is completed, is disappointing, say the NFPA.

    The Campaigning group Nene Flood Prevention Alliance were surprised by the enthusiastic support given in the media yesterday by the Environment Agency and Cllr. Ben Smith (Northamptonshire County Council) to the recently completed Northampton Standards of Flood Protection report.

    The report which was presented to the Anglian (Northern) Regional Flood Defence meeting last week, was received by the Committee last Friday 8th October, but the report has not been accepted or agreed by Cllrs. and members at the meeting, who were told that a further meeting had been arranged by the Agency on the 19th October with the NFPA to debate serious outstanding matters in the report.

    Alan Hames said “There are a number of serious issues concerning the operation of flood defence in Northampton, these have been brought to the Agency’s attention, these will form the basis of the Communities meeting with the Agency on Monday 19th October. He added “we hope to have answers which will allay residents’ outstanding fears”

    The issues outstanding are;

    • The absence of real measurements from the 1998 flood to support the basis on which the computer model, created by consultants Scott Wilson, was based.
    • The failure of Towcester Road Bridge to meet its flood design specification.
    • The half-finished flood defence improvement works at the Washlands, which remain incomplete to the present day.
    • The continuing threat posed to occupants of caravans at downstream Billing Aquadrome (which had to be evacuated in 2007) should it be necessary to open sluice gates to avoid flooding in the town centre.
    NFPA’s engineer Alan Hames, NFPA members, Northants Residents Alliance are set to meet with Scott Wilson and the Environment Agency next Tuesday 19th October to begin the process of technical validation of the report. Before it goes back to the Anglian (Northern) Regional flood Defence Committee to be accepted.

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  • Email to Paul Woodcock Environment Agency Regional Director

    You can fool some of the people some of the time but …….etc.,

    I thought you might like to see the email (below) to the Chronicle & Echo from a well-informed resident of Northampton. She is extremely unimpressed with the recent outrageous claims of the EA and Cllr Ben Smith – because, like so many other Northampton residents, she witnessed the ‘Billing evacuation event’ in 2007.

    To help jog everyone’s memory, you can see the Newspaper report from that date at: http://www.northamptonchron.co.uk/news/local/100_s_evacuated_due_to_flood_fears_1_913723 which sadly has had the dramatic photographs removed, but the story still exists like a spectre at the feast.
    It seems our “1 in 200” year defences in the town can’t be used until Billing Aquadrome has been evacuated (a 1 in 8 year event).

    I find your very public stance on the ‘acceptance’ of the unproven Scott Wilson report which is doomed by a lack of essential data that the EA has to date been unwilling or unable to supply quite puzzling. Especially as your exaggerated and inaccurate announcement was made before the technical review meeting arranged with NFPA’s consulting engineer next week. Sad to say, following the huge amount of effort invested by NFPA in providing Scott Wilson with significant amounts of data that had been ‘lost’ by the EA, your recent actions in the Media strike us in the Northants Residents Alliance as duplicitous.

    I am sorry to inform you that you following a meeting of the NRA yesterday, we are unanimous in our belief that you have broken the trust between residents in Northampton and the Environment Agency, directly as a result of your actions. In future, the Environment Agency and the County Council will be treated by Northants Residents Alliance and its members with great mistrust. We will continue to campaign vociferously against the poor performance of Agencies, Planners and Councils within Northamptonshire with increased zeal.

    Roger Kingston
    Co chair Northants Residents Alliance
    16 North Meadow View
    St Crispin
    Northampton
    NN5 4UD

    From:
    Anne Jones
    10 Holbein Gardens
    West Hunsbury
    Northampton
    NN4 9XT

    Tel: 01604 767479

    A little puzzle for Cllr Ben Smith who said this week on Radio Northampton that the town centre has flood defences to a standard of 1 in 200 years which are second-to-none.

    Please can you explain, Cllr Smith, why, in an extreme flood threat, the inadequate Washlands reservoirs are at full capacity so quickly that the engineers controlling the defences have to make the decision on whether to open the Washlands sluice gates and flood Billing Aquadrome within minutes or keep the sluice gates closed and allow the town centre to flood? Apparently the leeway is less than an hour, which is all the time available to evacuate the Aquadrome before the gates are opened. Not a pleasant prospect in the middle of the night for a caravan park crammed with holidaymakers. This is not something which MAY happen. It HAS happened more than once in the past few years.

    Surely, Cllr Smith, a flood defence system as wonderful as ours should do better than this.

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