First the good news
Things are moving on apace with Feniton’s much-heralded flood alleviation scheme and I have met with officers of EDDC, Feniton’s County Councillor (Claire Wright), the contractor, the Parish Council and local residents to hear an update on progress. The scheme has entered phase 2, whereby the contract to design the works required has been awarded to Howicks and they can now proceed with drawing up plans.
However, there is much to be done. Initially, landowners have to be contacted and agree the proposal. The work will need planning consent, which shouldn’t cause a problem, but needs to be in place before work actually starts. The design needs to ensure that the pipe goes under existing services (electricity, gas, foul water drains) and under the railway line. This will be a particularly delicate operation as the line will have to be kept open throughout and any works must not undermine the rail track itself. A full ecological survey will need to be carried out all along the route of the new pipe to ensure that endangered species (including bats, reptiles and dormice) are not disrupted. In addition, an archaeological survey needs to be undertaken.
All this means that the start date for the groundworks is currently January 2016, meaning that Feniton will be watching the skies with trepidation for the next 30 months or so.
More good news
On Thursday last week, Feniton’s flood warden scheme was launched. With a great deal of help from the Environment Agency (see https://susiebond.wordpress.com/2013/03/29/being-resilient/ for a full report), the scheme has been set up to help those affected by flooding. EA staff joined flood wardens at Feniton church for a talk from an officer of Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, and were then given a demonstration of how to build a wall out of sand bags in order to protect properties in the most efficient way possible. This was surprisingly more complicated than we’d realised.
Hopefully, Feniton will be given a ‘rain intensity alarm’ which will be linked to a central computer and send out an alert when there is a risk of flooding in the village. Met Office warnings are less suitable for us as they are aimed at areas at risk of river or coastal flooding. Those who have suffered from flooding in the village know how quickly it happens and there is often little time to get organised.
And then there’s the bad news
So, while all this activity is happening behind the scenes to try and help the much beleaguered residents of Feniton, the developers are still determined to profit from a vacuum in planning law, which could mean that the village is transformed into Feniton New Town. What effect any new development will have on the existing problems in the village can only be imagined at this stage, but the rush to build in a village which floods is akin to painting your bedroom ceiling before you repair the hole in your roof.
It just doesn’t make sense.