to VWHDC, 12 September 2007
Ladies and Gentlemen
am speaking in relation to Agenda Item 7. I am going to talk about
past planning mistakes, and about avoiding making matters worse
for the future.
am going to speak about Radley Lakes . I feel uneasy talking about
lakes, when peoples' actual homes have been flooded, but I think
that what has been happening at Radley Lakes is symptomatic of a
lot of what is wrong in this area.
went to Radley Lakes on 23 July. To the south of the old Abingdon
Branch Railway Line, the floodplain was completely inundated, and
water was lapping at the clay bund which surrounds the 17 hectares
of floodplain that RWE npower has filled in with ash from Didcot
estimate that nearly 40 million gallons of water that would have
gone into the floodplain there was displaced by the ash that has
been piled up in the floodplain.
did all that water go instead? There are only two possibilities
- either it was forced downstream towards Abingdon, or it backed
up further upstream, around Radley and Kennington.
could this development have been allowed? That's a good question
– one for Oxfordshire County Council and the Environment Agency,
who approved it.
Environment Agency is now looking at the observations which were
made in this area during the July floods. We await their conclusions
the part of Radley Lakes I've just been talking about, the damage
is already done. I'd like to speak now about Thrupp Lake , where
there is still a chance not to repeat the kinds of planning disaster
I've just described.
is a 30-acre lake, right beside the floodplain. The lake is fed
by groundwater – it fills up naturally, quite quickly. It probably
holds around 50 million gallons of water. It can also act as a reservoir,
taking excess groundwater, rainwater, run-off and, very possibly,
flood-water from the Thames . It can absorb maybe another 10 million
gallons or more, simply through the rise and fall of the water level.
now, it's proposed to fill this lake in, and to replace it with
a four-metre high impermeable mound of clay and ash.
the groundwater will be displaced (50 million gallons or so) and,
in times of heavy rain or flood, all the extra water the lake could
have absorbed - will go elsewhere. And where will all this
water go? Downstream – to Abingdon – of course.
was this scheme given planning permission, despite comprehensively-researched
objections from local people on flooding?
a good question – again, one for Oxfordshire County Council and
the Environment Agency. The Environment Agency is apparently looking
at the matter again – as well they might.
this scheme hasn't been implemented yet. It's not too late to stop
seems to me that, in the these times of climatic uncertainty, to
replace a 30 acre lake adjacent to a floodplain with a four-metre
high impermeable mound of ash and clay would be an act of gross
folly, and of gross corporate irresponsibility.
I call on this council to pass an emergency resolution, calling
on Oxfordshire County Council, the Environment Agency and RWE npower
to put this disastrous scheme on hold until a full and proper assessment
of its likely consequences for the future can be undertaken, in
the light of the recent floods.
is no time to be taking chances with our environment.