Full steam ahead for Phase 3 of Feniton flood alleviation project

Great news for Feniton from East Devon District Council!

Work on a new flood culvert beneath the railway will commence in May 2020

Feniton is set to see its long planned flood relief culvert (Phase 3 of the Feniton Flood Alleviation Scheme) installed under the railway line over the weekend of 2 and 3 May 2020

East Devon District Councillors gave approval for Phase 3 at a meeting of Cabinet on 5 February 2020.

Cabinet’s go-ahead follows a successful bid by the council for additional central government grant money to close the funding gap for the new culvert.

East Devon is working in partnership with Network Rail who will be delivering this crucial element of the Feniton Flood Alleviation scheme on the council’s behalf.

The Feniton Flood alleviation scheme largely consists of a new overflow culvert 900m long. This will run from the north of the village, under the railway line and into the original watercourse, which was enlarged as part of Phase 1 and 2.

Although Phase 3 (the under-track rail crossing) is the shortest in length of the project’s four phases, it has been the most challenging to deliver, due to it crossing the Exeter to London Waterloo main rail line.

The council expects the under track crossing construction site and surrounding area to become much busier in April for preparation for the crossing. This will then culminate in an intense and continuous 48 hour work period over the Saturday 2 May and Sunday 3 May weekend.

Flooding, December 2019

There will be some inconvenience to local residents over this period, for which the council apologises and asks residents for their understanding of this important step towards reducing the flood risk to the community of Feniton. The flood alleviation scheme will leave 72 homes better protected from flooding.

While preparing for the new culvert under the railway to be constructed, the project team will work on securing further central government funding to progress Phase 4, which will link up phases 1, 2 and 3, and allow Feniton to enjoy reduced flood risk.

Work on Phase 4 will commence on site in April 2021, subject to central government money being available that year.

Feniton has a long history of flooding, dating back to 1901, but has experienced numerous flooding events since New Feniton was built in the early 1970s. The existing watercourse and railway culvert have insufficient capacity to convey excess water. Consequently, water overflows the banks and runs through people’s houses. It then backs up against the railway line and floods properties to great depths.

Following extensive flooding in 2008 and 2012, the local resilience group has been working tirelessly to reduce flooding. As recently as December 2019 their quick thinking actions averted further property flooding.

Cllr Susie Bond, East Devon’s ward member for Feniton, said:

The news of Cabinet’s unanimous decision to press ahead with phase 3 of the flood scheme has been greeted with resounding cheers in the village. There is light at the end of the tunnel for flooding misery in Feniton, although there is still a long way to go to complete the works. The tenacity and hard work of the council officers on this project, has been one of the key factors in pushing the scheme forward.”

Cllr Geoff Jung, East Devon’s portfolio holder for the environment, said:

“I am so pleased that East Devon’s Cabinet agreed to support this scheme for the next two phases, which will finally provide the protection from surface water flooding.

“Because of the number of houses at risk, the Feniton scheme is our number one priority, with the Sidmouth Beach Management Plan a close second.

“This Scheme will protect 72 houses from flooding that has been a constant threat to Feniton residents for many years.

“As part of our commitment to tackling the effects of climate change, East Devon is working hard to meet the challenges posed by flooding throughout the district, including the Exmouth Tidal Defence Scheme and the Sidmouth and East Beach Management Plan project.”

Further information about the Feniton flood alleviation scheme can be found on the East Devon website: https://eastdevon.gov.uk/flooding/flood-alleviation-schemes/feniton-flood-alleviation-scheme/

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Route of Feniton flood alleviation scheme

For those who have asked, here is an indicative map of the flood alleviation scheme.

Route of the flood scheme


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Disappointing news for Feniton

East Devon District Council has issued the following press release after news broke that Network Rail could not go ahead with the October 2019 date for phase 3 of the Feniton flood alleviation scheme.

Network Rail has confirmed that work on Phase 3 of the flood alleviation scheme for Feniton, due to be carried out next month (October) cannot take place.

East Devon District Council has just been advised by Network Rail that Phase 3 of the Feniton Flood Alleviation Scheme cannot be undertaken as planned next month (October 2019).

Phase 3 involves a 52 hour weekend track closure to facilitate major excavation works to create a new culvert and the installation of a 1m drainage pipe beneath the rail track. The drainage pipe will connect up to the already completed phases 1 and 2 to take away any flood water from people and properties.

Because of unacceptable financial compensation risks to the council should these works overrun, Network Rail is managing phase 3 and has tendered the work on East Devon’s behalf. Having reviewed the delivery programmes submitted by the suppliers, Network Rail feels there would be an unacceptable risk to the hand back of the operational railway, which is subject to a strict time scale.

Network Rail has advised the council that post tender negotiations with the suppliers are required, which means that the October track closure window will now be missed. This is so that they can secure the necessary assurances and clarification on construction methodologies, road closures and viable track management.

Network Rail understandably needs to be satisfied that the chosen contractor can undertake the work to a standard that ensures the train timetable is not interrupted after the track closure. The consequences of work overrunning is hugely costly and both Network Rail and East Devon need to mitigate the risk of being fined if works overrun.

East Devon is now prioritising finding a new future track closure date for the works and will consider how phase 4 of the scheme can be progressed, so that the entire project can be commissioned when the excavation work is complete.

The design work for Phase 4 was due to be undertaken this winter, with the actual construction of Phase 4 of the flood alleviation scheme taking place in spring 2020 when the weather is warmer (which means the work can be done more quickly with less disruption to local residents). Construction of the channels to intercept flood water upstream of the village, and construction of the remainder of the culvert to link the sections (phases 1 and 2) have already been completed.

Cllr Susie Bond, Feniton ward member, said:

“It was immensely disappointing that Network Rail has been unable to reach agreement with its own contractors after a whole year of delay on this phase of the flood scheme. I urge NR to resolve matters as soon as possible so that phase 3 can be undertaken before April 2020 at the absolute latest.”

IMG_0164Work on the flood scheme started in 2012 and the most protracted and complicated part of the process has been negotiations with Network Rail.

The patience of the people of Feniton and of the Parish Council, in particular, has been extraordinary. When I reported the news to the Parish Council at their monthly meeting on Monday, they agreed that at a meeting with EDDC at the end of September they would press for a meeting with Network Rail and enlist the help of MP Neil Parish.

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