The Environment Agency is to demonstrate today how its plans to help communities at risk if flooding in the Thames Valley and Surrey this winter.
Staff will practice putting up temporary defences at firm's Osney Depot in Oxford. The defences will be used in cases of flooding to stop or reduce water reaching properties. The Environment Agency will also showcase its two new incident command vehicles which will help staff operate remotely in the field during flooding emergencies.
A Medway skip hire company and its owner have been ordered to pay £17,120 after an Environment Agency investigation found them operating the site illegally.
Walsh Skip Hire Limited, of Knight Road, Strood, pleaded guilty to the offences at Maidstone Magistrates’ Court and was fined £10,000 with costs of £5000. The company owner Peter Walsh was fined £1500, with costs of £500 and a victim surcharge of £120.
Charges were brought when the Environment Agency investigation found significant volumes of waste on and surrounding the permitted waste site, which exceeded the environmental permit limits of 20 tonnes of non hazardous waste and 150 tonnes of inert waste.
The court heard how site inspections in 2013 identified multiple permit breaches, with excessive amounts of waste on the property and the site infrastructure in a state of disrepair. Environment Agency officers worked with the site operator to address these issues and agreed a course of action; however these actions were not taken.
Two enforcement notices were issued in May 2014 with staged timescales to bring the site into compliance by 14 September 2014, including adhering with the conditions of the environmental permit and removing the huge stockpile of waste, which was now crushing and covering the site’s boundary fences and spreading onto land belonging to several different landowners. However on 15 September 2014 the site was still far below the standards required with multiple permit breaches noted, including the large stockpile of mixed waste on and off the permitted area.
Alan Cansdale, Environment Agency Environment Manager, said:
An independent check is to be made on how the Environment Agency operated a flood barrier in Kent last winter. Residents of Yalding, near Maidstone, which was badly flooded over Christmas, were told about the plan at a meeting last night.
The EA is also promising more precise flood warning zones. But as David Johns reports, many local people were far from impressed with what they heard.
He spoke to Mark Douch from the Environment Agency, local residents John Higgins and Regina Foxley; and Parish Council chairman Geraldine Brown.
The worst floods seen in the South East for decades were "a disaster waiting to happen".
That's the view of riverside residents in Kent who say dredging and river maintenance has ground to a halt under the Environment Agency.
Sevenoaks MP Michael Fallon agrees with them, describing the Environment Agency as no longer fit for purpose. But the Agency says it does just as good a job as its predecessor the National Rivers Authority. John Ryall spoke to Mr Fallon as well as residents Huw Alban Davies and Roy Newing.
The Environment Agency is building an artificial pond to help Winchester cope with the exceptionally high levels of water flowing along the River Itchen and into the city.
Crews are using sixty sandbags, each weighing one tonne, to create the holding area which should divert and store flood water away from the city.
The pond is being built between the M3 and Easton, upstream of Winchester. By diverting and storing excess water, it should allow rising ground water and water from other streams to drain into the river.
This should reduce risk of flooding to 100 properties including St Bede’s School, the arts and leisure centres.
The artificial pond is being created in partnership with Hampshire County Council which has made the land available, and the Highways Agency which closed lanes on the M3 to allow a crane to lower the sandbags.
The Environment Agency has said it will be monitoring waters levels closely to ensure there is no increased flood risk to residents in the Easton area.
"We don't want flood warnings. We want NOT to be flooded." That's the message - loud and clear - to the Environment Agency tonight as it holds a series of heated meetings with flood victims across the south east.
But in the worst affected areas of Kent - residents have been told they might have to wait 20 years or more for desperately needed flood defences. It's the first time the Environment Agency has given people a time frame for major investment - and it's caused uproar.
Tonight there are reports of flooding - and imminent flooding - in many parts of east Kent including Wickhambreaux, Ickham, Barham, Bishopsbourne and Stodmarsh. And there are flood warnings in force on parts of the River Stour, Little Stour and Nailbourne. Sarah Saunders reports.
Some of the country's favourite beaches could be ruled unsuitable for swimming under new European water quality rules.
Walpole Bay Beach in Kent, Hastings Main Beach in Sussex and Southend Jubilee Beach in Essex are among those that have been earmarked 'at risk ' of failing to reach the higher water quality standards that come into force from 2015.
The authorities in Kent, they are looking at ways to avoid the 'unsafe for swimming' blacklist. Sarah Saunders reports.
Environment Agency emergency crews work on defences at Osney Lock in Oxford a few days after the death of a man whose mobility scooter fell into the River Thames nearby.
The Environment Agency has issued this updated alert regarding the Ilford Bridge Home Park close to the River Stour at Christchurch.
There is significant risk to life. Flooding may be rapid and flood water may be deep and fast flowing. There may be damage to roads. bridges and other utilities in your area. Water levels are likely to remain high for a a longer than normal period as there could be an influence from the high tide.
Call Floodline on 0845 988 1188, select option 1 and enter Quickdial number 166120 to get more information