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Flood Risk Management

Protecting communities and increasing resilience

Strategy Newsletter – April 2022


Published

Last Updated

Devon Local Flood Risk Management Strategy Update

Devon’s revised Local Flood Risk Management Strategy was published in February of last year and is supported by the Annual Action Plan detailing improvements and investment for this current financial year. This newsletter is the first instalment for 2022 engaging with our partners and local communities to inform them of the work being undertaken in local flood risk management. A copy of the full Strategy can be found on our website.

Flood Risk Management Response to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is still a concern for the residents of Devon and the staff within the Flood & Coastal Risk Management team. Following the easing of government guidance on COVID-19, the team are taking a hybrid approach to work. Most team members are continuing to work predominantly from home with some splitting their time between home and County Hall. We believe we can continue to offer a high level of service in reducing the risk of flooding to people’s homes and businesses across the county while taking this hybrid approach to work.

Team members can undertake site visits where necessary, however, there are still considerations when meeting indoors or sharing vehicles. Most of our meetings continue to take place via video conferencing. Safe working practices will be followed at all times to enable us to fulfil our responsibilities as the Lead Local Flood Authority.

For information on our ongoing flood improvement projects and how they are being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, please see our flood improvement projects section later in this document.

Flood incidents

Section 19 reports are now available on the Flood Risk Management Team website for two flood events from the 4th – 5th and 20th – 21st of October 2021. The 20-21st October event saw at least 112 properties flooded with the worst affected areas in East Devon with 30+ properties flooded internally in Seaton and 40+ properties in Axminster.

In February, Storm Eunice brought strong winds and widespread disruption to Devon and led to the Met Office issuing a red weather warning. Fortunately, Storm Eunice did not lead to widespread flooding meaning a Section 19 report was not required for this event.

If you have you have been affected by internal property flooding please report this on FORT which is our Flood Online Reporting Tool. For more information on who to contact during or after a flood event please refer to our website.

Natural Flood Management (NFM)

DCC’s Flood and Coastal Risk Management Team is committed to the delivery of flood improvement works throughout the county and will continue to endorse Natural Flood Management (NFM) measures either as standalone projects or within larger flood improvement schemes to future proof against the effects of climate change. To progress this, DCC is currently working in partnership with the Environment Agency to deliver Natural Flood Management pilot studies in a few selected locations across Devon.

Northern Devon Natural Solutions

We are working with the Environment Agency to support the Devon Wildlife Trust with natural flood management aspects of an ambitious project that focuses on a range of river catchments across North Devon and Torridge:

“This project will work with farmers and landowners to encourage them to think big and use natural solutions to create, restore and connect wild spaces for nature. This project will see new areas of woodland created, wildflower rich grasslands restored, rivers returned to their natural state to reduce flood risk, and rewilded areas of land that will help tackle the climate and nature emergency.”

We have already approved several Land Drainage Consent applications for ‘leaky dams’ and other features to slow down the flow of water in upper catchment areas.

Diagram showing a typical structure and configuration of a leaky dam
Diagram showing a typical structure and configuration of a leaky dam. Source: FWAG South West

More information about Northern Devon Natural Solutions can be found on the Devon Wildlife Trust website.

Natural Flood Management Strategic Group

We will be expanding the Natural Flood Management Strategic Group to cover Devon and Cornwall. The aim of the group will continue to be to share knowledge and learning across organisations, but we are taking the opportunity to expand this sharing of information. The Environment Agency will be taking the lead of the group going forward with both Devon County Council and Cornwall Council sitting on the project board. The next meeting will be held in June 2022.

Carrying out works in watercourses

If you need to carry out works in an Ordinary Watercourse then please apply for Land Drainage Consent. You can find information on the consenting process on our Land Drainage Consent webpage and you can now apply for a consent online using this form on our website.

Please note that works in watercourses are restricted from October through to the end of May to protect fish spawning, migration and other biodiversity. Please ensure you apply for Land Drainage Consent in good time to allow appropriate works to be programmed and completed during the summertime window when river levels are low and there are fewer environmental impacts.

Defra Six Year Programme 2021-2027

We have now entered the second year of Defra’s 6-year Flood & Coastal Erosion Risk Management Programme and are continuing to progress a number of projects for delivery in the early stages and numerous investigation studies for future investment. Subject to justification these studies may then lead to the delivery of further schemes throughout the 6-year period and beyond.

All schemes being delivered by Devon County Council, that attract Defra funding, will go towards the government’s target of better protecting 336,000 properties. It is recognised that we cannot continue to defend properties by increasing the height of defences and building more concrete walls therefore the main aim is to make communities and their properties more resilient to flooding and help people recover as quickly as possible. The inclusion of Natural Flood Management measures will also be considered for all projects to slow the flow in the upper catchment and reduce the impact on the built environment.

Flood Improvement Projects

DCC continue working on the delivery of flood improvement schemes to make Devon more resistant and resilient to flooding. At the time of writing DCC is working with our consultants to investigate and develop schemes in over 12 locations that, subject to funding, will be delivered over the coming funding window up to 2027.

Stokeinteignhead

The manufacture and delivery phase of works in Stokeinteignhead is now well underway. A significant number of properties have had their property flood resilience measures installed this Spring, with the remaining properties expected to be completed in Spring/Summer this year.

A brown  flood gate in a between stone walls in a front garden.
Photo of an installed flood gate in Stokeinteignhead.

Chillington

Construction of the flood alleviation scheme in Chillington took place at the start of the year and was completed in February 2022, on budget and a week ahead of schedule.

The village of Chillington has suffered several repeat flooding events in recent years at the junction between the A379 and Coleridge Lane. These flood events have mostly been the result of overland surface water from the upper catchment. The floods impact not only the properties in the area but cause significant disruption on this important A road.

A map of Chillington with labels pointing to proposed flood improvement works
Proposed flood improvement works in Chillington

Despite the challenging site constraints of being in close proximity to a number of buildings and small businesses, the contractor Glendinning/Aardvark completed the scheme with minimum disruption and as a result of successful completion, 12 residential properties are now better protected.

A colour photograph of flood improvement works being carried out in a trench.
Photo of flood improvement works being undertaken in Chillington
A colour photograph of flood improvement works being carried out in a trench.
Photo of flood improvement works being undertaken in Chillington

Harbertonford PFR

Agreements with relevant homeowners have now been reached and final measurements of the property resilience measures undertaken. The products are now ordered and awaiting manufacture for installation over the summer months.

South Pool PFR

Following further discussions with South Hams District Council regarding the required listed building consent to carry out the PFR installations, amended applications have had to be submitted and are currently awaiting decisions. Orders for bespoke products will be placed once the relevant consents are obtained.

Property Flood Resilience (PFR)

PFR Pathfinder

DCC has been a partner in a Defra-funded ‘PFR Pathfinder’ over the last couple of years, with this work led by Cornwall Council.  Its purpose was to explore different approaches to PFR and ways in which these might be promoted and expanded.  The project has now concluded. Resources from the project can be found at www.befloodready.uk. An interactive space with PFR products and educational resources can also be visited at the South West Climate Studio at Heartlands World Heritage Site near Redruth, Cornwall.

PFR Funding Scheme

DCC was an early adopter in running a proactive PFR funding scheme which has seen many residents improve the resilience of their properties and reduce the risk of them flooding. Now at a national scale, FloodRe, an initiative between the insurance sector and the UK government, have proposed to fund PFR measures for flood victims of insurers signed up under their Build Back Better scheme.  We expect FloodRe’s scheme to offer a welcomed alternative funding opportunity to flood-affected residents.

The information below has been maintained from the last newsletter and explains the PFR funding scheme. For more information on the PFR scheme and funding policy, and to download an application form please visit our website.

The PFR scheme is available for residential property owners to apply for up to £5,000 worth of funding. With this, a property survey will be carried out and a list of recommended resilience measures produced, which will need to be purchased and then installed by a selected contractor. Any additional budget requirements over £5,000 are at the expense of the property owner.

There is limited funding, with an allocation to be made available each year by Defra, Local Levy and DCC. Applications will therefore be prioritised based on the criteria set out in DCC’s PFR Policy to maximize the number of properties benefitting from this opportunity and to ensure those properties with the greatest need will receive the funding.

Flood and Coastal Resilience Innovation Programme

Devon County Council’s initiative ‘Managing Big Problems in Small Places’ is one of 25 national selected projects. This project is funded by Defra as part of the £150 million Flood and Coastal Resilience Innovation Programme which is managed by the Environment Agency to develop and test new approaches to resilience tailored to local communities

We are entering the second year of this six-year project and are currently in the project development phase. As part of this, we have to submit an Outline Business Case that will be reviewed by the Environment Agency. Following approval, we will begin delivering the project.

The project team will be recruiting a Communication and Engagement Officer and will be advertising for this role in May.

More information about the Devon project will be made available through the Flood Risk Management website as the project progresses. Further information about the overall National Programme is available at: Flood and coastal resilience innovation programme – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

The Devon Community Resilience Forum

The Devon Community Resilience Forum, supported by Devon Communities Together, provides invaluable support and engagement to local communities ensuring they are prepared for the emergencies they could encounter. The Forum is well established between Devon County Council, the Environment Agency, Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue and Devon & Cornwall Police to help bring communities together and share their knowledge and experiences.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, online events have been held to engage with communities and share vital information and best practice to support their emergency planning needs. These have been very successful; however, the Forum is very excited to be able to facilitate the upcoming event both in-person and online, with live streaming of speakers and recording workshop sessions. The live event will be held in Filleigh Village Hall in North Devon on Monday 23rd May. An agenda will be published nearer the time and will be made available on the Devon Communities Together website. If you are interested and do not receive any correspondence direct then please contact the Devon Flood Risk Management team at floodrisk@devon.gov.uk.

The logo of Devon Community Resilience Forum
Twitter: DevonComsTogether

Funding opportunities are still available to support communities with developing their own emergency plans and the purchase of essential equipment to operate the plans and help make their communities more resilient. More information on the Grant Funding for Community Emergency Resilience can be found on the Devon Communities Together website.

Flood Online Reporting Tool (FORT)

We would like to remind everyone to use the Flood Online Reporting Tool (FORT) to report current or recent flooding. We use this to gather and record information about flooding that has taken place, in particular when internal flooding of a property has occurred.

Please note FORT was formerly known as SWIM (Severe Weather Information Management). It is a straightforward, web-based system which allows members of the public, flood wardens and Flood Risk Management Authorities to enter details about property flooding. The FORT project has been developed by the GeoWessex partnership and Dorset County Council Geographical Information Team, with support from colleagues from the Environment Agencies and several Local Authorities.

The flood online reporting tool logo

If flooding has affected your property, you can fill in the details of the flooding using one of the following options:

For more general information on FORT please visit https://swim.geowessex.com/devon/. Please note: Although the name has changed from SWIM to FORT, the web address containing SWIM is still currently in use.

The flood online reporting tool logo

Any information submitted as part of a FORT record will be used for data collection purposes only. If you require a direct response, please contact a member of the Flood and Coastal Risk Management team at floodrisk@devon.gov.uk.

Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) News

We held an online SuDS workshop in March 2022 to update local developers and planners on our planning requirements for surface water drainage strategies and to discuss best practice.  The event was attended by nearly 100 delegates on both days and proved very informative.  We had talks from a host of presenters from internally within Devon County Council as well as from the Environment Agency, South West Water and district councils on a variety of topics such as Biodiversity Net Gain, Newton Abbot Garden Communities and South West Water Adoption requirements.

The SuDS Team are involved with providing pre-application advice to the Sherford Consortium for Phase 3 at Sherford New Town being led by the Urban Fringe Team at South Hams District Council.  Our role involves providing feedback on the proposed design code, reviewing proposals for surface water drainage/ green infrastructure as well as the proposed diversion of a stream, prior to submission of the detailed Reserved Matters applications expected later in the year.

Please see the image below illustrating Basin 3 which has been recently constructed at Sherford which is one of the 14 attenuation basins proposed as part of the site-wide drainage strategy to manage runoff at Sherford as well as provide biodiversity, amenity and treatment of the runoff.

A photo of a attenuation basin filled with water and with grass around the outside.
Photo of Basin 3 At Sherford New Town Near Plymouth

Addendums to the Strategy

There have been no further amendments to the Local Strategy since publication and therefore no new addendums to report. Any future updates or revisions will be dealt with through addendums to highlight changes that have been made.

Useful Information

The following documents provide useful information and guidance:

National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy

Devon’s Local Flood Risk Management Strategy 2021-2027

NFM Guidance for Devon (PDF) / Accessible version: NFM Guidance for Devon Webpage

Living with Water Leaflet

Meet the team

Flood & Coastal Risk Manager Martin Hutchings
Flood & Coastal Risk Project Engineer John Galt
Flood & Coastal Risk Officer – Projects Vacant
Flood & Coastal Risk SuDS Engineer Helen Montgomery
Flood & Coastal Risk Officer – SuDS Joshua Lewis
Senior Flood & Coastal Risk Officer – Area (South Hams and West Devon) Jessica Bishop
Senior Flood & Coastal Risk Officer – Area (Teignbridge, Exeter, North Devon and Torridge) Hock Lee
Assistant Flood & Coastal Risk Officer (East Devon, Mid Devon, North Devon and Torridge) Thomas Aldridge
FCRIP Project Manager Doe Fitzsimmons
FCRIP Project Officer Mikaela D’Souza
Environment Technician Jago Burris
Graduate Intern (North Devon, Torridge, West Devon & FCRIP) Freya Money

What to do in the event of a flood Your guide on who to call

In the event of a flood, there are many authorities available to help. Below outlines who should be contacted for the various types of flooding incidents and emergencies that occur. The local authorities rely on information reported to them to inform any investigations and prioritisation of investment.

If it is an emergency and there is danger to life as a result of flooding, you should not hesitate to call 999

To report flooding of the highway and blocked drains contact Devon County Council’s Highway Customer Service Centre on 0345 155 1004 or visit the Roads and Transport webpage. Office hours are Monday to Friday 8am – 8pm and Saturdays 9am – 1pm. For emergencies outside of these hours call 01392 383329

For any flooding on major trunk roads (the M5, A30, A38, A35 and A303) contact the Highways Agency on 0300 123 5000 (24 hour service)

To report flooding from sewers and water pipes contact South West Water on

0344 346 2020 (24 hour service)

For enquiries about flood warnings contact the Environment Agency’s Floodline on

0345 988 1188 (24 hour service)

For general enquiries about Main River or flooding from the sea contact the Environment Agency on 03708 506 506

For all other flooding enquiries contact the Devon County Council Flood Risk Management Team on 0345 155 1015 or email floodrisk@devon.gov.uk.

Preparing for a flood

Please refer to Devon County Council and Environment Agency web pages for advice on what to do before, during and after a flood. In the first instance of flooding and sandbag requests contact your local District or Parish Council to be directed to any local sandbag supplies that may be available.

Flood Alert: Flooding is possible. Be prepared.

Flood Warning: Flooding is expected. Immediate action required.

Severe Flood Warning: Severe flooding. Danger to life

Warnings no longer in force: No further flooding is currently expected
in your area.

Sign up to flood warnings: https://www.gov.uk/sign-up-for-flood-warnings