Saturday, 14 June 2014

Government finally acknowledge Penzance town council letter about flood defences

On monday I blogged about Penzance and the lackadaisical response to the flood damage from central government.  I expressed disappointment that the letter sent to the Prime Minister from the then mayor Phil Rendle had gone weeks and weeks without a response. Just now 5 days after I posted my blog, the post came, including a letter from Dan Rogerson providing a partial response to some of the points raised by the town council.

Dan writing here in his capacity as Parliamentary Under Secretary in DEFRA. Apoligises for the lateness in the reply citing high volumes of correspondence about the winter storms. (Perhaps it's not just the passport office running a record back log?)

The following paragraphs are pretty generic.  I'm sure everyone's had ample time over the last 3 months to read and hear government ministers repeat these messages. Here they're no doubt copied and pasted from elsewhere. 1.4 million homes saved from flooding across the UK, capital investment programme across the UK blah blah blah.

Things change to the subject of Mount's Bay and the £95,000 allocated to Cornwall Council to draw up a coastal management strategy.  Big sums maybe. Enough to do that job maybe. The letters also has a briefing note attached from the Environment Agency (dated May 2014), which explains a little more about this strategy and the important fact this project started in summer 2013. We can only trust those original allocated funds are enough to cover the task and that the strategy will take lessons from the 2014 storms...

The letter explains any options of a break water to protect the seafront will need to be considered in that strategy. Again will due weight be given to more recent storms in this regard?

Apparently Defra and Cornwall Council have been working on a business case to repair the Eastern Green- Penzance harbour-Penzance prom, sea defences.  That £2.98 million has been secured to repair these sea defences. Welcome news, I have no idea how far that goes to putting good the damage or what they're even proposing. Sounds like early days for that one, fingers crossed work is done before next winters storms...

As for Newlyn Green apparently little will be done as according to the Environment Agency there's: "little risk of flooding or erosion resulting in a loss of residential property." Quite what works are going there at the moment are obviously unknown to government. Presumably Cornwall Council is picking up that tab...

There's a similar approach to Jubilee Pool to quote the Environment Agency report: "the damage and potential further loss of the Jubilee Pool has limited impact on risk to the property adjacent to the area, so would not eligible for funding from this allocation." Like their view on Newlyn Green I think's it's a contestable point and both ignore the fact there are buildings not to mention a vital road protected to some degree by these structures.

I'm still disappointed all this talk of "money is no object" and "I'll pick up the tab" from David Cameron is now muddled with a raft of ifs, buts and maybes. Not only that but a straight answer is so very difficult. Here we are months after the storms and we're still no nearer to our sea front being fixed and we don't even know when it will be done and what it will end up looking like. On the plus side at least Westminster is replying to letters on the issue now....