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ADEPT award for Canvey flood work

19 February 2016

A multi-agency partnership has won a top national award for its response to flooding issues on Canvey Island.

The agencies, led by Essex County Council as the Lead Local Flood Authority, collaborated on the Canvey Island Flood Alleviation Project.

Their work has now been recognised by The Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT), at the ADEPT national awards ceremony on 28 January.

The agencies awarded include Anglian Water, Essex County Council, Castle Point Borough Council, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service and the Environment Agency.

They won the category for ‘Resilience’ under the ‘Long Term Funding to Prevent, Prepare and Respond’, for their approach to solving Canvey’s surface flooding issues, ensuring that a plan of action was undertaken and working with local residents to engage and build community resilience.

County Councillor Mick Page, Deputy Cabinet Member for Planning, said: “Firstly I want to congratulate and thank all the people involved in this ongoing project and the successes that they have already achieved. This win really highlights the success of the multi-agency partnership approach in delivering outcomes. Where there have been issues identified these have been addressed and it is certainly the case that all of the partners have rolled their sleeves-up and got on with the job in hand.”

The flooding plan was in response to a significant surface water flood incident on 20 July 2014, when a ‘Wembley Stadium’ of water fell on the Island. The partnership’s objectives are raising awareness of flood risk, and increasing the resilience of Canvey Island’s communities and businesses to flooding. Since the incident partners have surveyed over 5,000 gullies and 2,500 manholes, finding 1,800 defects in the drainage system. Also around  has been spent around on jetting and CCTV surveying on 3.6km of the drainage network and over £2 million has been spent updating the island’s infrastructure since 2013.

A key strand of the partnership’s programme has been focused on community resilience by working with the local communities to help inform and engage and raise the profile of flood awareness.

Christopher Hayton, Public Affairs Manager at Anglian Water, said: “The work that has been delivered by the multi-agency partnership shows the power of real partnership working. The challenges faced by communities and business on the Island cannot be addressed by any one organisation and it is great to see this being recognised by both the Secretary of State and the Water Minister. There is of course much more to be done and the focus now needs to be on the securing of funds from Government, Local Authorities, and other business organisations such as the South East LEP, to ensure the work set out in our 6-Point Plan can be delivered.”

Canvey Island Town Council has been working with Lead Local Flood Authority team at Essex County Council to identify and map the open local watercourses on Canvey Island, which form a vital part of the drainage network. This is helping the Lead Local Flood Authority to meet its statutory duties in an innovative community-led way.

Charlie Beardall, Environment Agency Area Manager, Eastern Region, said: “It is a fantastic partnership. We’ve delivered much more than we could have as individual organisations. It has been of great benefit not only to our organisations but also to the Canvey island community.”

It was after the 20 July 2014 storm and heavy rainfall that Essex County Council as the Lead Local Flood Authority prepared a Flood Investigation report which set out 13 recommended actions. The first of which was to establish a multi-agency partnership.

Over the past 15 months these partners have worked to address all of these recommendations. This includes preparing a longer term 6-Point Plan, to be delivered over the next ten years, to deliver further infrastructure improvement, make best use of technology and work with local people to deliver community-led solutions.

David Marchant, Chief Executive of Castle Point Borough Council, said: “Anglian Water, Essex Highways and Environment Agency have worked cooperatively together to get on with repairs. The Lead Local Flood Authority has done a magnificent job of bringing us all together. If government was to identify a model of multi-agency working, look here.”

The National Flood Forum (NFF) and Essex County Fire and Rescue Service mobilised their local volunteer networks in 2015 to raise the awareness of flood risk and the steps that individuals can make to reduce this risk. A number of behavioural change campaigns were also rolled out on the Island in 2015.

Paul Hill, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, said: “The outcomes achieved in our recent Canvey Island Flood Alleviation Project are a result of an approach to partnership working that recognises contributions from all stakeholders. This understanding of the importance of every party takes time and effort; it doesn’t just happen, you can’t do it only when you need it and it doesn’t always go to plan. Those involved with this work in Essex have spent years working together across boundaries, supporting shared agendas and I am pleased that they have been recognised for their vision and care for our communities.”

The partnership has been under significant Government gaze following a set of recommendations issued by the Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor in 2014. At the November 2015 meeting, Water Minister Rory Stewart voiced clear commitment and identified up to £3.4 million in contributions to this critical infrastructure from Defra. He said: “This is an impressive example of people working together. The 6-Point Plan looks amazing. This is a high priority. I am an advocate. We’d like to take this model around the country.”