Posted on December 5, 2017
Two articles published in the December Orford Village Voice
ALDE AND ORE ESTUARY PARTNERSHIP
PROGRESS ON THE ESTUARY WALLS
Since May the Partnership have agreed the modelling specification for the whole estuary and are now waiting for the final results. This will give us a good baseline model and it looks like the draft results are in line with the previous modelling undertaken and significantly underpins the Estuary Plan. It shows the impacts on other flood cells and highlights properties which may need localised protection. It will be necessary to discuss with the Iken landowners exact designs for that flood compartment, which will possibly include retired walls to protect houses and other assets. The final report will be available in late November and we will communicate our thoughts and any cost implications as soon as we can. You will be glad to hear Phase I of the Aldeburgh wall upgrade is complete. No further work can be started until we have the schemes designed, costed and relevant consents from the Environment Agency which will be some time next year, but it is hoped to be able to start some mitigation work (removing rare species, water voles, adders etc) from the wall for upgrading work to start in earnest in 2019. We expect to spend £2-3m a year across the estuary in 2019 and each of the following four years.
A public forum was held at Tunstall Village Hall on 10 November chaired by The Right Hon. Lord Deben to discuss concerns that the community had raised and to view the sketch plans for the currently proposed sites. Lord Deben discussed a number of concerns all of which are covered in the FAQs on the website. He hoped that if the community were unhappy about the proposed plans to raise funds through enabling development they might propose alternative ways to cover the significant funding required. We must all work together on this. The AOEP has decided to pause their enabling development plans in order to take into consideration comments received at recent public consultation meetings and to give more time for other sources of funds to be pursued. While the SCDC planners indicated, at a recent meeting, their continuing support for the use of enabling development to part fund the Estuary Plan, they agreed to pause the ED programme and this was confirmed with The Estuary Trust on Friday, 17th November. The main general appeal for funds was launched last month, and applications to the HLF Landscape Partnership and to other foundations are under way. Taking account of that, the AOEP has decided not to make any planning applications on sites for at least twelve months, i.e. not before November 2018. Meanwhile, informal discussions may continue with planners and others. By November 2018, following on from the whole estuary modelling, there will be a more refined phased and costed programme of flood defence work in the estuary. There will also be a clearer picture of the likelihood of success of other fundraising sources. Funding is in place for all costs anticipated in 2018, so this pause will not impede the progress of delivery of the flood defences. It will also provide time for further community discussion about the Estuary Plan, funding sources and the extent to which any enabling development is required.
AMANDA BETTINSON – Partnership Secretary, Alde and Ore Estuary Partnership
AOEP ESTUARY PLANS: FLOOD DEFENCE
I live in Orford so I am aware of the concerns about flooding in this estuary area. The Alde and Ore Partnership, a group set up in May 2012, has held three Fund Raising Launch Meetings recently in aid of strengthening the river wall defences. At each of those meetings, held in Aldeburgh, Snape and Orford, we were told that questions about Enabling Development would not be taken, but full information about the proposed Enabling Development sites would be available at future meetings.
A public meeting was held in Sudbourne Village Hall at 3.45pm on Tuesday 3 October 2017, and another was in Tunstall Community Centre at 4pm on Friday 10 November 2017. People at these meetings asked searching and pertinent questions about the Alde and Ore Estuary Partnership Plan for Flood Defence which includes reliance on Enabling Development. At Sudbourne, on 3 October, the meeting was conducted by a professional facilitator who was calm and competent and who provided the opportunity for everyone to ask questions and make comments. Through this fair exchange of views, I learned the names of the statutory bodies involved, a little about the duties of those bodies, something of the issues to be faced and also about complications involved in protecting this estuary and the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. I felt everybody was interested in working towards the best outcome. Questions from the floor asked for clarity on a number of issues. None of the questions were answered fully at that time. However, it was the beginning, and further discussions and ideas would surely come. At Tunstall Community Centre I was shocked and disappointed by a very different atmosphere. The chairman was not impartial. He was not prepared to give time for the meeting to consider some very important and complicated questions. There were several occasions when the chairman interrupted a speaker from the floor to tell them they were wrong. He did not thank them for their observation or point of view if it differed from his and he did not give full weight to the need for clear answers to the questions. The inference that I became aware of in this aggressive atmosphere was that:
- People were labelled as being obstructive if they asked for clarity about certain things
- People who suggested that there could be other ways of raising funds, were similarly dismissed
- Nobody had the right to question the Partnership Plan
The chairman of the fund-raising committee was quite explicit that in his view without Enabling Development there could be no flood defence and if the community did not agree to that he said, “The plan for flood defence would be dead”. Such emotive language blocks rather than helps understanding and contributed to the bullying tactics used by the chairman. I think this is no way to engage with the community. As one very experienced and thoughtful contributor ventured to suggest a certain amount of ‘scaremongering’ was going on.
As a consequence, I am confused. I was intimidated by the tone of the meeting. I was moved by the strength of feeling expressed by many members of the community that the Alde and Ore Partnership wants to use Enabling Development inappropriately. Enabling Development appears to be the Partnership’s ‘first resort’ where as it should be used only as the ‘last resort’. Enabling Development is being urged on the community, far too early in the fund-raising effort.
I am concerned that there have been only two public meetings so far at which it was possible to discuss flood defence and question some fundamental issues concerning the work needed, how it can be achieved, costing and evidence for the decisions already made by the Alde and Ore Partnership. None of those questions have been answered satisfactorily to date. Added to which the meetings were at inconvenient times for many working people; the attendees were unrepresentative of the greater community. It cannot honestly be said, therefore, that the community has been made fully aware of the Alde and Ore Partnership Plan, especially the reliance on Enabling Development within the plan and the consequences of its being granted.
I hope that other meetings will be arranged soon with the aim of having full and open discussions and a fair exchange of views. I also hope the meetings will be managed properly and held at appropriate times for all members of the community.