November update on Phase 3 of Feniton Flood Alleviation scheme, from EDDC

The following press release has been issued by East Devon District Council outlining the current situation with Feniton’s long-awaited flood scheme.

Network Rail and council in talks over line closure to enable Phase 4 works to take place

East Devon District Council is currently having discussions with Network Rail over the closure of the Exeter to Waterloo line, which will need to be closed for 28 hours to allow the installation of a storm water pipe beneath the line east of the bridge at Green Lane, Feniton. The pipe forms Phase 3 of the Feniton Flood Alleviation Scheme and Phase 4 will connect to this section once it is in place. Phase 4 is the last part of the flood alleviation scheme which will reduce the risk of flooding to over 70 properties. The scheme could be complete in 2019 if this rail closure can be agreed.

Route of Feniton flood scheme

Route of Feniton flood scheme

Network rail and the council are deciding how best to manage the rail closure and any related risks to the rail network. This will involve agreeing a Basic Asset Protection Agreement (BAPA), which relates to the closure of the line and includes the costs that the council could potentially be liable for should the rail possession time be exceeded. This document will need to be signed by both East Devon and Network Rail. East Devon were due to apply for a line closure in October, but we could not accept the risk of incurring charges of several thousand pounds per minute if the works exceeded the closure window. The council is negotiating with Network Rail to reduce the risk to East Devon taxpayers and to reach a mutually agreeable way forwards.

Once an agreement with Network Rail has been reached, the council will commence tendering for Phase 4. The council hopes to have agreed a way forwards with Network Rail by March 2017 and to have started the final phase of construction later that year.

Councillor Iain Chubb, East Devon District Council’s portfolio holder for the environment, said:

“With Phases 1 and 2 already complete, I am keen to see an agreement reached so we can move forward with Phase 4. The completion of this scheme is critical in order that the residents of Feniton can rest easy whenever there is heavy rainfall.”

Councillor Peter Bowden, East Devon District Council’s lead councillor for flooding, said:

“We are doing our utmost to deliver this vital scheme, so it is frustrating that delays have occurred, which are beyond our control. We are working hard with Network Rail on finding a mutually agreeable way of taking forwards the vital under track crossing to allow us to get on with the final phase of the scheme. We hope to have started construction on the final phase of the scheme by Summer 2017.”

Councillor Susie Bond, East Devon District Council’s ward member for Feniton and Buckerell, added:

Station Road, Feniton, on 21 November 2016

Station Road, Feniton, on 21 November 2016

“Along with much of the rest of the country, Feniton suffered another day of flooding this week, and it was only because of the hard work of the volunteer flood warden team that water spilling out of the combined drains didn’t get into houses.

“This flood scheme has been extraordinarily complex and residents are aware of the considerable hard work of all the agencies involved in getting to this half-way stage. Our MP, Neil Parish, has been instrumental in pushing the scheme forward and we are grateful for his concern in the situation we face in Feniton.”

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Another wet day in Feniton

I don’t think I ever fully appreciated the phrase ‘chilled to the bone’ until now.

Station Road on 21 November 2016

Station Road on 21 November 2016

20161121_115045I was out with the flood wardens yesterday on what turned out to be one of the most miserable days of the year. As usual, surface water poured off the field behind Mount View, flooding Station Road, which resulted in the primary school closing early. Ottery Road was flooded. Water poured down Green Lane. Pattesons Cross was impassable. In the old part of the village, drain clearance continued to protect properties at risk of flooding.

The picture was the same across vast swathes of the country.

We battled to keep water out of homes across the village and had to close Station Road and Wells Avenue to prevent water gushing through houses.

I was astonished by how kind and helpful some people can be, but also how incredibly rude others were. Here are just a few of the comments fired at us:

“It’s all the fault of the farmers!”

That’s not particularly helpful on a day when water is swilling round your ankles. The reason so many of the houses flood is because they were built right in the path of ancient springs which swell to produce the most extraordinary amount of water. Don’t blame the farmers … it’s thanks to their guardianship of the countryside that we live in such a beautiful area.

“Your flood scheme is useless … what a joke!”

Not a very helpful comment when you can feel the rain trickle down your neck. The irony was that we were standing at the point which is the top of East Devon District Council’s £1.6M flood scheme (phase 4) and where no work has yet taken place.

“You’ve been taken for a ride by Wainhomes. Their attenuation tanks are full ‘all the time’”

I have no idea what made a resident say this, since it’s simply not possible to prove. While it’s true that yesterday there was much water coming off the Wainhomes site, the design of the attenuation tanks was approved by the relevant authorities. As for being taken for a ride by Wainhomes, had it not been for the efforts of various parties (as well as swift work by East Devon District Council’s Legal Department who slapped a Breach of Condition Notice on them), Wainhomes would not have installed the tanks at all, and matters would have been far worse.

“No-one’s been to visit us yet!”

The flood wardens are not a branch of social services. We are volunteers who do our best. While we do what we can to help, we are not miracle workers! Perhaps those who are critical would like to join the flood warden scheme and see for themselves?

“Bring me sandbags now!”

This from a lady who was nice and warm inside her cosy house. Please don’t shout at the flood wardens to bring you sandbags. Please don’t shout at all. We will find someone to bring them to you if you are elderly or disabled. Otherwise, the best thing to do is make preparations for protecting your house while the sun is shining. Again, floodwardens are volunteers and not part of the social services!

“Move that traffic bollard. I need to drive through here!”

Key floodwardens have received professional training and are now empowered to halt and divert traffic: this is not a matter of people playing at traffic cops. Yesterday a number of people were upset that they were prevented from driving their 4x4s up Station Road. They felt that the water was shallow enough for them to pass with ease. As was explained on numerous occasions, we were protecting the houses which are built below the level of the road. The slightest bow wave causes water to get into these houses. I understand that a Tesco delivery man was particularly unhelpful.

But despite all this, there were so many acts of kindness.

A very kind young boy called Fred arrived with his mother and a tray with mugs of tea and Bourbon biscuits (my favourite!). Other offers of hot drinks and biscuits were gratefully received and meant that we could work on a little longer.

I can’t list the many kind souls who braved the elements yesterday, but Jayne Blackmore, Danny Beaven and Dave Sanders deserve special mention … thank you to these volunteers.

And to some others … please have patience and don’t blame those who are doing their best to help!

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Feniton flood wardens becoming ever more resilient

Three of Feniton’s flood wardens attended two days of training to learn how to close roads when they are starting to flood.

This has always been an issue in Feniton, as drivers are sometimes less than considerate when asked not to drive through flood water.

Because Feniton has houses built below the level of the road, a car driving even quite slowly through the water can cause a mini-tidal wave which can be sufficient to cause flooding in these properties.

Jayne’s report on the training is below.

In the meantime, if you are at risk of flooding, now is the time to prepare for the winter ahead. Make sure you have sandbags ready and that you know where the dumpy bags of sand are located around the village.

Please don’t wait until the water is lapping at your doorstep before doing anything about it!

If you need any help, contact Jayne (850964) or me (850208).

South West Highways (SWH) Chapter 8 Training

men-at-work-signDanny Bevan, Bill Knollman and I attended the two day course at the SWH Rockbeare training centre. The course was funded by Devon County Council (DCC). There were three other gentlemen who joined us.

Yes … I was the only female!

During heavy downpours the roads in Feniton become impassable, especially in Station Road, Salisbury Avenue and Close, Wells Avenue and Talaton Road by Farmway. Closing the roads prevents tidal waves caused by traffic and protects houses at real risk of flooding. Unfortunately, the wardens were not legally allowed to do this without the City and Guilds Unit 2 qualification.

This course provided us with sufficient knowledge of signing, lighting and guarding methods in order to minimize delays and eliminate risk of accidents whilst maintaining a safe environment for the general public, the road users, and the volunteer flood wardens.

Packing up after our assessment

Packing up after our assessment

The first day started at 8.30 a.m. and the morning session was spent discussing the correct positioning and selecting the correct warning signs, lamps, cones and barriers to close a flooded road. Some of the information given was not applicable to Feniton but it was very interesting. I really did not know how difficult it was to put out signage!

All done!

All done!

The signs have to be a certain length apart and positioned differently depending what speed limit the road is, how wide the road is and whether it is a single or dual carriageway. We spent the afternoon pacing out the road and placing our lead-in tapers, exit tapers and other signs in the correct position. We even had to set up traffic lights and set the light sequence required – very interesting but again not necessary for Feniton!

The course gave us a good understanding of the need to permit and maintain controlled movement of pedestrian and vehicle traffic at the site of the flooding, and appreciate the requirements of safe practices, whilst the wardens are carrying out the road closures.

All smiles as we all passed our assessment!

All smiles as we all passed our assessment!

Please contact the Flood Warden co-ordinators if you think your road is flooding and becoming a danger to your property. They will ensure the three qualified wardens are sent to that area as quickly as possible. In the meantime, we are trying to source funding to obtain the correct signs that are needed.

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