On 6th March the East Midlands news team descended on Knowleston Gardens, site of the Bentley Brook pumping station. Contrary to local understanding the film crew took evidence from the Environment Agency who confirmed that the November 2019 floods were caused by surface water rather than flooding from the river. The volume of the water was such that the pumping station could not discharge this water in enough volume and rate into the river. Hence the water back flushed through the drains into the town centre causing the flooding that we all saw.
This is not the first instance of surface water flooding affecting the town; it occurred on 20 September 2018.
The housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, told MPs on Thursday that officials would review the policy of building homes on high-risk flood plains and bring forward changes “in the coming months”.
The announcement, made at the end of a wide-ranging speech on the future of planning, will have significant implications for the government’s aim to build 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s to ease the chronic housing shortage.
It comes after the Guardian revealed that one in 10 of all new homes in England since 2013 have been built on land the government considers at the highest risk of flooding, with more than 11,000 planned for high-risk flood zones in the counties battered by storms in November and February.
Building on land prone to flooding is a risk to new homeowners and compounds the danger for surrounding areas, experts have said, as flood water that could otherwise be soaked up by green space instead runs quickly off concrete and into rivers.
Greenpeace’s chief scientist said “The government has provided no details on this, but it seems as if ministers may have finally realised that building new homes in areas with high flood risk and inadequate defences is a recipe for continual disaster.
“This is one of many examples where for far too long, the government has talked about the climate emergency without treating it as if it was real. The widespread damage and human suffering from the recent flooding have shown just how real it is.
“The government should work up a more sensible policy that empowers local councils and the environmental watchdog to stand up to pressure from developers who are putting profits before people’s safety.”