Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Regional Fire Centre to be Built...on a Flood Plain!

Tory candidate for North West Leicestershire Andrew Bridgen has discovered that there are firm plans to build a new regional fire and dsaster relief centre ... slap bang on a flood plain. Tory Radio has an interview with him HERE.

24 comments:

strapworld said...

This one will go up in flames! sorry terrible pun.

Will it be on stilts? Wooden stilts at that.

I say that because one of the facts of the recent Newquay fire is the fact that the hotel had a wooden fire escape! I have heard that a firefighter on holiday in Tintagel, Cornwall complained, in a letter, about the hotel he had stayed at, asking how did it get a fire certificate! That firefighter considered that hotel dangerous.

Cornwall County Officials looked at the hotel and agreed with the observation of the visiting firefighter!!!

My information is that Cornwall County Council are now looking at the possibility of having to look at all hotels again in the light of that letter and the fire in Newquay!

Has Someone blundered?

When you also consider that both the Newquay and Truro turntable ladders were out of commission that night, the plans to close both Camborne and Falmouth fire stations.

The Lib Dems in Cornwall have got a major problem on their hands.....

Jonathan Sheppard said...

It does beggar belief doesn't it. Chesterfield was quite badly hit by the floods - indeed one shopping centre is still not open, and quite a many houses and flats were hit. I even remember a fire engine getting stuck in the floods trying to get someone out of a car.

We wont have to worry about that though if a regional fire centre is built on a flood plain - as they will be too busy pumping the water away from their own headquarters.

aardvark said...

A non-story really.

The vulnerability of the site to flooding was taken into account by the consulting engineers for the project and appropriate action was taken.

On their website, BWB Consulting say:

"Prior to development, the majority of the site was situated in flood plain of the River Trent. Flood compensation ponds were constructed adjacent to the development site and the site levels raised accordingly to meet Environment Agency requirements."

simon said...

The whole of Holland is built on a flood plain. It's not where you build, it's how.

Daily Referendum said...

Maybe instead of a pole, some kind of water slide could be fitted.

It's nice to know that once the fire station has managed to pump itself out, it will be available to help the public.

Kris said...

This government makes me laugh.

I've love the argument, "Oh, the engineers have signed it off." Woo hoo. Like they'll be picking up the pieces when the place is eventually flodded.

The other tragic/comedy moment is when Yvette Cooper or whatever he name is was on TV defending government plans to build cheapo housing on flood plains. What a hoot.

Hey, you won't be able to get insurance, by hey, who cares?

This government is hell bent on providing housing to "asylum" seekers (read economic migrants with a cheezy solicitor) to every muppet who wants one. Cheers guys. And when those flood too- just come to Aunty Kris for the tax to bail you and them out- again.

Sir James Robison said...

Wasn't there somethng biblical about build on the rock?

Prentiz said...

Indeed - also not the only one. I suspect this might indicate the inspiration...

From the Gloucester Citizen:
"THIS IS PLAIN CRAZY!

00:30 - 23 August 2007

A Controversial fire control centre for the south west is being planned on a flood plain.Forest MP Mark Harper has revealed the proposed location for the regional base, near Taunton, is in the highest risk category on the Environment Agency's flood website.

He says if serious flooding affects Taunton, the entire South West could be thrown into chaos.

Newent county councillor Will Windsor-Clive, cabinet member for the emergency services, said: "Closing Gloucestershire's extremely successful fire control is bad enough - but to replace it with a regional control at risk of flooding would be insane."

Tony said...

If it is not where you build but how, then surely there follows the issue of cost. At a time when this government has been pursuing a policy of development on flood plains, spending on defences has decreased.

Of course once attention was focused on the problem 'Fingers' Brown suddenly found a bit more of our money to announce with his soundbites.

The question no one in government wants to answer is, how can we have plans for affordable housing when the flood defence costs have to be factored in to such developments?

Ralph said...

The argument that the engineers have signed off on it is specious.

Engineers signed off the Walham substation even though it is next to a channel of the Severn. They did nothing although the site had been partially flooded before. Then when disaster strikes we have to fly in sea cadets to help keep the water out.

Jonathan Sheppard said...

Oh aardvark - thats OK then - the engineers say its OK. Tell that to all those householders who were told that measures had been taken to stop the water flooding on historical flood planes.

aardvark said...

Also on a flood plain are The Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, 10 Downing Street, New Scotland Yard, The London Fire Brigade Headquarters, CCHQ, etc., etc......

Building on a flood plain is perfectly acceptable if there are adequate defences or, as at the Leicestershire site, ground levels are raised locally. That is what civil engineering is about.

Most problems have arisen where a developer has chosen to ignore the warnings with respect to flood risk.

aardvark said...

Jonathan Sheppard said...
Oh aardvark - thats OK then - the engineers say its OK. Tell that to all those householders who were told that measures had been taken to stop the water flooding on historical flood planes.


I don't suppose the engineers did say it was OK. Engineers don't have much say on housing estates. The developers may or may not ask for engineering advice but they are usually more concerned with cutting corners.

Engineers would recommend designing for a 1 in 200 year flood event. Developers will usually go for 1 in 30 years. Any advice from the Local Authoriity or the Environment Agency is usually ignored.

simonh said...

Yes, indeed. Ignore the engineers adn listen to the disenfranchised middle-aged men in the comments box of a Tory blog. It's what made Britain great.

Tory Radio said...

I never said engineers had any say re housing estates. If you think it's acceptable to build all over flood plains that's fine. I personally don't and to say that something has been done to meet Environment Agency standards really fills me personally with no faith at all. But that's just me

aardvark said...

Tory Radio 9.40 PM

Good job you don't live in Holland.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it'll be a floating fire centre (like these proposed houses in the main city of God's own county: http://www.lep.co.uk/news/Floating-homes-plan-for-Preston.3150468.jp)

Tory Radio said...

Oh thats Ok then - Holland do it so it must be fine. Funny - they also build houses with hydraulic systems too in Holland as they are used to this.... I wonder if this fire centre has one?

Prentiz said...

The particular problem here is one of resilience. Labour is intent on closing all existing fire control rooms (London aside there's usually 6-8ish in a region) and replacing them with one regional one. This was supposed to save money, which of course its failed to do, but its also going to actually reduce resilience - because there'll be a single point of failure. Of course, the Government is full of flim flam about technological solutions to allow control rooms to back each other up (although there will be much less staff to do so). However, given their record, who really trusts them to be able to do it? Its one thing if the NHS supercomputer doesn't work - its quite another if your house is on fire and no-one answers the 999 call. This is the last gasp of Prescott's regional plans and needs kicking into touch with elected regional assemblies and regional police forces.

vervet said...

Quote Prentiz: "This is the last gasp of Prescott's regional plans and needs kicking into touch with elected regional assemblies and regional police forces."

This large heap of incompetence might be on the way out but it is wrong to ascribe these 'regional plans' to him (I think his planning ability extends no further than to his next meal).

This regionalisation is euro-driven ... as things stand, England is well on the way to extinction. It IS BEING replaced by 9 regional administrative areas - 'cost-savings' is nothing more than a red herring - watch as stealthily our local authority structures are dismantled.

Watch as control of police forces, fire services moves away from local control to regional, just as the NHS has done.

Keep watching, do nothing and see your country be dismantled before your very eyes - if you voted New Labour at any of the last three general elections, you have no-one but yourself to blame.

The Remittance Man said...

it's all very well saying that the building will be flood proofed up to and beyond the requirements of the Environmental Agnecy. As an engineer myself I know this.

But there are two problems everyone seems to be ignoring.

Firstly the last floods went on for some time (several days if I am correct). This implies that the shift manning the centre when the floodwaters rise, while remaining nicely high and dry, will have to stay at work for the duration. Unless of course valuable resources are to be diverted to ferrying each shift back and forth.

And secondly on a more general note: flood plains serve a purpose - they are nature's sponge harmlessly absorbing a lot of excess water when rivers are in spate. If they get concreted over, they cease to serve this function. The water in the river then stays in the river course producing much higher flood peaks that then overwhelm urban flood defences.

Of course as an engineer I tend to look at matters with a somewhat more practical eye than say a politician. I also expect my (inconvenient) professional opinions to be ignored unless they are required to get some pol's arse our of the fire.

aardvark said...

Remittance Man, I agree entirely with your comments. My main point really was that Iain has chosen the wrong target for his criticism. This is a well-designed scheme which should be hailed as an example for others to follow. The creation of the compensating ponds meant that there was no loss of flood-water capacity in the locality. The site adjoins a main road (close to a motorway junction) and the new roads within the scheme are elevated, so access for the staff should not be a problem.

It would probably be more correct to describe the control centre as being built on a FORMER flood plain.

aardvark said...

Prentiz said...
A Controversial fire control centre for the south west is being planned on a flood plain.Forest MP Mark Harper has revealed the proposed location for the regional base, near Taunton, is in the highest risk category on the Environment Agency's flood website.

Another non-story. Why do politicians assume that all planners and engineers are idiots?

“Clive Kemp, deputy chief fire officer for Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue, and project director for the centre, yesterday said the risk of flooding was actually assessed as being once in 1,000 years.”

An Environment Agency spokesman said it will be removed from future flood risk maps.

The Government’s fire control website says:

"Even if flooding occurs, measures have been included in the design to ensure the building is not affected.

"These include ensuring that the height of the floor level is above the risk area identified by the Environment Agency and a proposal to construct a series of bunds to ensure flood water is contained and access roads protected. In addition, an alternative access to the site will be provided.

"Furthermore, measures will be taken in the design to flood-proof the building so that it would remain protected and operational, even if water did reach it."

Riversider said...

"It's not where you build, it's how"

That's what they said in New Orleans.

Time to start taking flood risk seriously, and telling the greedy developers to go elsewhere.