At the end of August, I was delighted to be invited to walk the route of phases 1 and 2 of Feniton’s flood alleviation scheme. It was an exciting moment to have got to this half-way point and to know that the endless hard work by the multi-agency team, involving Devon County Council, the Environment Agency and, of course, East Devon District Council, was finally coming to fruition.
Phases 3 and 4 are imminent, and while the inevitable road closures and noise from heavy machinery will all be very disruptive, it will be worth it in the end.
As flood wardens, we dread the onset of winter or the rumbles of thunder from a summer storm, but of course it is entirely another matter to have suffered flooding yourself. The houses which have benefited from the scheme thus far are reaping the benefits in bucketfuls, as it were, with the water which used to wash through their houses or lap at their front door now being channelled around their properties.
Owners of properties south of Patteson’s Cross who feared they would be at greater risk of flooding now have all-singing, all-dancing flood mitigation measures, to help alleviate any increase in surface water flowing past their houses.
Having got this far I have to say that while the scheme has been very complicated, not least since it involves managing high expectations, Feniton is in a very much better position than it used to be. Residents are hoping that when finished, these flood defences will help them sleep better at nights, while the landowners involved have their own concerns and priorities. (Indeed some landowners are of the opinion that they are owed considerable amounts in compensation.) It’s all very expensive and all very time-consuming at a time when resources are constrained, but I think we can allow ourselves just a small, interim celebration.
There are of course many players involved over the years who deserve thanks for keeping the profile high and the pressure up; not just the ever patient residents, but also the Parish Council and former District Councillor Claire Wright.
But I would also like to raise a metaphorical glass of champagne to one particular party which, in my opinion, doesn’t always get the credit it deserves – East Devon District Council.
Like many of you I haven’t always seen eye to eye with EDDC, but when it comes to Feniton’s flood defences, these officers have worked really hard on our behalf, and merit a bit of thanks and respect from us as a result.
There have been times, I know, when it seemed all but impossible to get approval for a flood defence scheme at all, a time when developers were arguing that if a £1.6 million scheme was to be the answer, the only way it would work was if they were allowed to build literally hundreds of houses on our green fields. EDDC stood up for us then, and for an independent flood defence scheme.
And where would we be now if they had decided to walk away from Feniton and its many problems?
A full report of the site visit can be read here … http://eastdevon.gov.uk/news/2016/09/second-phase-of-feniton-flood-alleviation-scheme-now-complete/ and full background details of this critical project are provided at http://eastdevon.gov.uk/flooding/flood-alleviation-schemes/