As part of our active interest in the development, improvement and protection of Cockermouth we have prepared the following letter requesting additional information from the Environment Agency concerning the proposed flood defences that would run from Victoria Bridge all the way round to the end of Waterloo Street.
Details of the proposals can be found on the EA website at http://environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/floods/131663.aspx and a map indicating the extent and type of defences is located at http://environment-agency.gov.uk/static/documents/Map_of_our_proposals.pdf
Dear Mr Bacon,
Proposed Flood Defences for Cockermouth
Members of our Committee attended the exhibition of the Environment Agency proposals for enhanced flood protection on Wednesday 7th September. A number of questions arose for which we did not obtain answers on the day. I would therefore be very grateful if you could provide us with responses to the questions identified below. Please note that I am copying this letter to Mike Apperley for the information of the Cockermouth Flood Action Group.
- What effect will there be on Bitterbeck under flood conditions from an increased head of water along the Cocker, and what will be the consequences?
- What consideration has been given to strengthening of the existing house walls on Hatters Court since in the plans they are to act as 2.5-3m defence walls? [These are rubble walls and we believe that they cannot retain anything like that head of water. They could collapse causing a very powerful destructive surge to be directed through town. Note that these are listed buildings and any works will be subject to listed building restraints].
- What consideration has been given to the potential opening up of new flood-water pathways from the increased hydrostatic pressure arising from the higher head of water under flood conditions?
- Specifically, has consideration been given to the effect of the increased head of water on the known flood-water pathway through the basement of HSBC Bank?
- With increased head and the restriction of flow at Cocker Bridge, will this not increase the likelihood of both damage to the listed structure and the direction of water through the open bridge parapet onto Main Street? [Specific concerns are for localised increased head of water directly against the upstream parapet as a result of the inevitable pressure wave that will build at that point].
- What protection against destructive scour is planned to the Cocker Bridge foundations and what structural surveys have been carried out to ascertain the suitability of the structural integrity of Cocker Bridge when exposed to the increased head and flow of water? [The likelihood of greater scour occurring with the proposed works should be incorporated in to the viability and consequence of the scheme. Any Bridge collapse at this point would lead to severe flood ingress to the Town Centre].
- In order to assess and understand the various flood risks, could you set out what the various probability statistics actually mean in terms of height of water above a known datum (ideally some known landmark within the Town Centre).
- Have conscious decisions been made to create sacrificial areas of town in order to protect other areas, and, if so, what are these areas and what is the basis of these decisions? [Specifically we are concerned that Market Place has been designated ‘sacrificial’]
- What arrangements are being put in place to ensure that the residents of Cockermouth, in particular those most affected, fully understand the physical and visual intrusiveness of the various proposals on normal life, in particular the raising of the height of the protective walls? [We believe that the rivers in Cockermouth are an important part of the ‘added value’ of living here and creating a ‘Fort Knox’ will significantly undermine this. Clearly a balance has to be struck between flood risk and ‘ambiance’, but it is crucial that we all understand the negatives of the proposals as well as the positives so that informed decisions can be made]. In particular, would you consider undertaking a ‘house to house’ survey of the most affected residents such as on Ruby Banks, the results of which may be used to support the case for proceeding (or otherwise)?
- What consideration has been given to schemes to delay flood-water reaching Cockermouth as cost effective alternatives to raising flood defences within the town itself? [Examples might be increased forestation and/or sacrificial areas upstream of Cockermouth]
Many thanks in anticipation of your response,