Meeting on Flooding with Guy Shrubsole

Discussion of local flood hotspots flowed when twenty people attended Brent Friends of the Earth's (Brent FoE) public meeting on flooding on Tuesday 10th February in Kilburn. Guy Shrubsole, Climate Campaigner from Friends of the Earth, gave a talk about the risk of flooding and what can we do to tackle floods and climate change in Brent.

Guy's talk and presentation (see here) outlined the trend towards greater flooding brought by climate change. The UK had its wettest winter ever in 2013-14, and 2014 was also the hottest year on record. Since 1998 we've had seven out of ten of our wettest winters. 5 million homes in the UK are at risk of flooding, with 370,000 at significant risk. This could rise to 1 million by the 2020s. The 2013-14 floods affected 8,000 homes causing £1bn damage. Sea levels have risen 10cm in the last century and the South of England is slowly tipping into the sea, as levels rise due to melting glaciers. In London the Thames barrier was raised a record fifty times last winter and will need to be replaced in the future.
 
Whilst last year's floods showed the need for more expenditure on Britain's flood defences, budget cuts have left a big gap. In 2010 Chancellor George Osborne cut £100 million from the flood defence budget, despite the Government's own Climate Change Committee recommending an extra £500 million just to keep up with our future flooding needs. Shortfalls now will mean huge expenditure required in years to come, to repair flooded properties and infrastructure.
 
In Brent Central 2,300 homes are at risk of flooding – mostly around the River Brent and the Welsh Harp. Concreting over of gardens and inadequate drainage mean flash floods are more likely with heavy rainfall. Audience discussion turned to local concerns. In 2002 cuts to drain cleaning led to aflood in Cricklewood, with Barnet Council criticised. There is current controversy over a proposed dam in Hampstead Heath. The new Quintain development in Wembley had plans to naturalise the Wembley Brook, but more areas are now to be concreted over with less parks than originally planned there.
 
Ian Saville, a Co-ordinator of Brent Friends of the Earth said, “It was good to bring together people with knowledge of flood risk areas in the borough and find out about the wider impact of climate change on flooding. We can all do something by not paving over front gardens, and leaving some permeable areas for water to soak into the ground. We must also ensure the Council don't skimp on drain clearance and management of our waterways. With a general election coming up we can urge our prospective MPs to invest in flood defences, support renewable energy and put a stop to fracking and other fossil fuels that exacerbate climate change and flooding. All are welcome to join us at a national march on climate change on March 7th.”
 
Martin Redston, a local resident who attended the meeting said, “As a Chartered Civil Engineer based locally, I would suggest that flood risk in the area needs to be considered seriously. Apart from theflood plain which exists next to the River Brent, there is a high probability that flooding from surface water that occurred in 1975 and 2002 could occur again. This type of flooding is caused by sudden high rainfall which has difficulty draining over hard surfaces into undersized old sewers. The paving of gardens for patio and car parking spaces has added to this risk, and there is planning legislation dating from October 2007 to encourage Sustainable Drainage systems. Parts of Brent are vulnerable toflooding because rainfall onto Hampstead Heath percolates into the gravel and sand in the high land and as it is unable to penetrate the impermeable underlying clay, flows down into lower lying areas over a longer period after rainfall finishes.”
 
A representative from Brent Council provided a flood risk map of Brent [attached below] and guidance from Brent's Planning department, referring to a draft development policy. All new developments should take account of climate change, and any that have the potential to contribute to flood risk will be resisted. They must also include sustainable urban drainage systems.
 
Guy's presentation is available here.

Brent Friends of the Earth invite residents to join them at the forthcoming National Climate March in London on Saturday 7th March. They will be meeting outside Kilburn Park tube station at 11.45am. For more details see www.brentfoe.com or www.timetoact2015.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Brent Flood Risk Zones.pdf203.07 KB
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