Prevention is better than cure

Letter printed in the local press Author Dr. Steve Ellams


I refer to the front pages of both the Ilkley Gazette and the Wharfedale Observer dated March 31 2016.

An up to date publication regarding flooding and drainage issues from Bradford MDC has just been published (Local Flood Risk Management Strategy).

I would like to point out from Addingham to Menston various groups from Parish Councils to Action Groups have been pointing out serious concerns about the lack of joined up thinking when it comes to flood risk.

There are examples in the District of serious shortfalls in planning controls leading to developments being blighted. In addition where there are old Victorian combined sewers, in some circumstances these cannot cope now and most certainly will not be able to cope with proposed large scale developments.

I quote from this latest document:

 “National Flood Management has previously been managed in a disjointed way.  Flooding from rivers (fluvial) has passed between successive Government agencies, whilst land drainage and sewer flooding has been managed in a variety of combinations on Local Authorities and public and private water companies.  The blurring of boundaries for responsibilities and uncoordinated actions of different risk management authorities has resulted in a failure to provide consistent and coordinated actions in response to local flooding events.”

I have, with many others, been in dialogue with all of the agencies who are likely to have some input regarding flooding and drainage. The buck passing is quite extraordinary!  Is it not time for someone to get a grip, particularly on the health risks regarding sewer flooding which is now becoming a regular event.

It is a well-known fact the pollution in our streams occurs on a regular basis and that the odd failure at a treatment plant is no longer the reason. According to an OFWAT report on New Housing Developments they voiced concerns about additional new housing without making provision for suitable drains and making sure existing sewerage systems could deal with the extra load.  They also pointed out problems have become worse since new developments have been built and overloaded the sewerage system and concluded that sewerage flooding had been a problem for the past 10 years and was probably due to extra building of houses in an area.

Just like any other problem in life, prevention is better than cure. This means that considerable re-plumbing of sewer systems to allow for large scale developments must be a priority and thereby reduce the risk.  The infrastructure must be able to withstand large scale developments which is certainly, in my opinion, not the case in the Bradford district.