Asphalt Plant: Flooding risks raised by objector

Resident raises issue of asphalt plant being built on a flood plain

Those who haven’t been following comments added by readers in relation to the proposed asphalt plant at Medina Wharf may have missed one posted by Harvey yesterday to our article published before Christmas.

As Harvey’s comment was fairly lengthy and raised a subject not previously discussed here in connection with the asphalt plant, flooding, we felt it would be worthwhile republishing his comment. In his own words. Ed

Once again the Medina Wharf asphalt plant applicant is to be given unlimited time to enhance their case (note the process has now being ongoing since April 2012) whereas the public on the other hand are being denied any further consultation period.

I have therefore written to the LPA, objecting on the grounds that the proposed development is on the flood plain of the river Medina and that despite this, no provision has been made for this aspect in the application, either in the preliminary design statement or the design itself.

Not acknowledged by applicant
In fact the applicant does not even recognise that the site is located on the River Medina flood plain as stated in their application (Risk Assessment page 3 Paragraph 2.4).

Although the site is locally elevated, due to the amount of uncontrolled and contaminated wasted dumped since 1913 this statement is clearly incorrect as the site is directly adjacent to the river and therefore exposed to tidal surges and flash floods.

Importantly when the applicant’s claims of site levels are checked against the Ordnance Survey map, the latter shows the five metre contour line going through the middle of the site giving a height of five metres above mean sea level i.e. SEVERAL METRES LOWER than the spot (aOD) levels specifically referenced in para 2.1 of the Risk Assessment (Environmental Setting) claimed by the applicant.

Risk from flooding is self evident
Taking the applicant’s stated intention of lowering the site by two metres and with recorded high tides in excess of four metres, the risk from flooding is self evident.

I note that this is not apparent from the maps submitted with the application because these show either contours marked at ten metre intervals or do not include the five metre contour marked as such within the area depicted.

Questionable information provided
An earlier letter of objection to the LPA from another resident dated 04/10/2012 independently confirms these points with regard to tidal records.

It also refers to other cases where information provided by this applicant cannot be taken at face value or relied on – a point which I have also made separately to the LPA in relation to the soils investigations (over 60% of the original soils samples could not receive accreditation because they were either incorrectly collected or suffered interference).

Planning experts vocal over building on flood plains
Building on flood plains is a very topical subject at the present time as a result of the devastation caused by changing weather patterns and subsequent flooding up and down the country causing misery, pollution, health hazards, damage to homes/businesses and the economy.

Various planning experts interviewed by the BBC in relation to the recent floods were asked to explain why developments are still being allowed to take place on flood plains.

Strict controls in place
Generally they denied that such developments were being allowed to take place unless strict controls were agreed to be put in place prior to approval being considered/recommended in line with Government Policy on building on flood plains.

The site includes the following statement :

”Between May and June 2007, extreme rainfall led to widespread flooding in England and Wales. It was arguably the largest peacetime emergency since World War II, causing 13 deaths and £3.2 billion in damage. The Government commissioned Sir Michael Pitt to undertake an independent review of the floods, which concluded that “urgent and fundamental” changes were needed to reduce flood risk. It called for a range of actions, including:

• Clearer roles and responsibilities for flood risk management

• A continued presumption against development in flood-prone areas, barring exceptional circumstances

• Flood-proofing of buildings in flood-prone areas

The Government accepted all 92 recommendations and the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 implemented those that required legislation ”

No alternative sites?
The following statements in bold summarise what the experts said:

1) Before any development is considered on a flood plain the applicant must prove to the LPA that there is/are no alternative site/sites

We know the applicant has spoken about three sites, but all are in the same location. These therefore cannot be reasonably described as alternative sites as they are in the same location and within the flood plain of the Medina and therefore all give rise to similar concerns/problems. The question therefore is “has the applicant investigated genuine alternative sites and actually demonstrated this to the LPA?”

St George’s Down Quarry site
We also know that there is at least one genuine alternative site on the Island (St George’s Down Quarry). This may not be the applicant’s preferred commercial choice. However, it is undoubtedly an alternative site which has operated without complaint or enforcement for approximately 25 years.

The siteowner/operator has a current planning application pending to upgrade their asphalt plant. This application has received public support and unlike the Medina Wharf site is not in a controversial location and is serviced/accessed by much better roads.

Comparing the sites
Compare the Medina Wharf site with St George’s Down Quarry : apart from the former’s controversial location (close to thousands of homes and sited on contaminated land), the road access is very congested and suffers frequent holdups. For example the Cowes/Newport Road becomes blocked whenever buses or refuse trucks stop en route and also when large trucks turn into Arctic Road.

Regarding Arctic Road despite this road being in a densely populated area there are no traffic lights to regulate heavy traffic turning, safe pedestrian crossing provision or indeed even a pavement on one side of the road.

At certain times of the day the Cowes/Newport Road cannot cope with present levels of traffic and as indicated becomes jammed. It is surprising that the highways department have not commented publicly on its inadequacy to support additional traffic, general safety and lack of pedestrian safety in relation to the Medina Wharf planning application.

Delays to alternative asphalt plant
It is noted that the planning application to upgrade the asphalt plant for St George’s Down Quarry is still outstanding. Much has been made by the LPA of the requirement to cooperate with planning applicants.

The public perception is that while the applicant for Medina Wharf has been given several opportunities and unlimited time to enhance their case, i.e. maximum cooperation, the St George’s Down application is unaccountably being held up by IWC, thus placing more pressure on planners to recommend approval for the Medina Wharf site on the pretext there is no alternative viable option.

The question has to be asked, why is the St George’s Down application taking so long to process? If the delays are due to other IWC departments dragging their feet, are the reasons for this valid, and if so, what are they? Have these considerations been applied equally in the case of the Medina Wharf application?

2) Before any development is considered on a flood plain the applicant must prove to the LPA that the design for the site can cope with flooding and not cause pollution. i.e. flood defenses must be part of the planning application BEFORE recommendation/approval can be considered.

Where are the applicant’s proposals for flood defence measures? Does their absence imply that we are to see yet another opportunity and more unlimited time being given to the applicant to produce a response?

We know that the applicant has not considered this issue. In fact they have made it more likely that the site will be vulnerable to tidal surges/flooding by planning to lower the site level by two metres.

Not only will the site be at greater risk of tidal surge/flooding etc as a result of the lowered level but also in the event of surge tides/flooding everything (waste oil, toxic crushed road planings and the like) will be washed into the river.

It is worth noting that historical records (County Press) indicate that in Carisbrooke when the roads were first tarmaced, all the water that drained from these new roads after the first rains into the ford and watercourses killed all the fish. The same material that killed those fish will be present on this site because there are no plans to put the mobile crusher, which will deal with the toxic road planings, into a secure pit/flood-proof building.

3) Before any development is considered on a flood plain the applicant must prove to the LPA that the design for the buildings/equipment themselves must be able to cope with/prevent internal flooding and pollution.

What has the applicant proposed in this case?

We know very little about the applicant’s design other than it is to be clad in steel sheeting or similar and painted dark green to blend in with the surrounding dense foliage (which of course isn’t currently there because it’s winter and the trees haven’t even been planted yet and if as planned the trees are planted on bunds of contaminated land removed from the surface of the landfill, they will probably never grow at all).

In no way can this be described as effective provision against tidal surge/flood risk, the incidence of both of which is becoming increasingly more common due to extreme weather patterns.

Urged refusal of application
To conclude I have urged the LPA to refuse this planning application for the above reasons and because it is poorly conceived and in an entirely inappropriate location. Because of the importance of these issues I have copied these objections to our Island MP who at least has represented the views and interests of his constituents in an exemplary manner.

Image: Howard Lake under CC BY 2.0

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Thursday, 3rd January, 2013 12:35pm



Filed under: Cowes, East Cowes, Green Issues, Isle of Wight News, Newport, Top story

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Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.


  1. Mr Einsteins Ghost

    3.Jan.2013 2:13pm

    This is getting a bit silly now! The plant will be built – should be built – and many objectors are guilty of some really over-dramatic scaremongering (this being a good example)

    • James Luke

      3.Jan.2013 3:09pm

      Why should the plant be built?

      Objectors are accused of scaremongering, yet those making that accusation never provide any explanation. We have provided detailed, scientific objections yet are brushed off by comments such as the one above.

      Please enlighten us an explain why thousands of people should be exposed to pollution, noise, odours, dust and traffic congestion?

    • Darwin's Disciple

      7.Jan.2013 9:31am

      Sadly Mr Einsteins Ghost has received an academic downgrade during his time in the ether. As for the General Theory of Relativity, it would now seem to have evolved based on the evidence of this ghost into something relatively stupid including
      trying to defy gravity.

  2. Tom Spragg

    3.Jan.2013 2:56pm

    “Scaremongering” eh? You really should grow a pair, Mr Pugh, and register under your own name.

  3. Black Dog

    3.Jan.2013 3:52pm

    More evidence, if needed of this councils skulduggery, supported by the the Boy Blunder. George Brown and Co

    Please note Mr. Murphy, this is yet another aspect that will be used in a Judicial Review Application if you and your officers proceed with this entirely flawed application

  4. michael douse

    3.Jan.2013 4:26pm

    Dear ‘Mr Einstein’s Ghost’

    I do not know who you are but I do know that your comment discredits the Nobel Peace Prize Winner whose name you dare to assign to yourself.

    As Dr Luke has said above, all of our objections are based on scientific facts , as well as truth and logic.

    On this particular topic of flooding raised by ‘Harvey’ you will find my own representation submitted to the IW Council dated 4 October 2012 on the Planning Website. which I copy here below.
    Application Reference: TCP/30985, P/00472/12
    Location: former landfill site adjacent Coal Yard Medina Wharf Arctic Road Cowes Isle Of Wight PO31
    Proposal: Proposed asphalt plant together with associated ancillary facilities including a mobile cold recycling plant mobile crusher
    weighbridge offices lorry park storage bays workshop and access
    Name: Michael Douse
    Address: 14 Cavalier Quay, East Cowes, PO32 6EW
    Comments Received:
    04 October 2012
    Dear Sir
    PLANNING APPLICATION TCP/30985 (tenth objection)
    I object to the above planning application for the reason that the applicant has submitted a ‘Review of Screening Bund Stability’dated 18 July 2012 which contains fundamental errors and as such this submission is not credible.
    Once again the applicant has engaged consultants to conduct desk top studies which fail to give any assurance that the authors who work in Cambridgeshire and Buckinghamshire have ever set foot on the Isle of Wight let alone the proposed site.
    Within ‘3.5 Hydrology and Hydrogeology’ the following statements are made;-
    ‘It is understood that no surface water features have been observed on the site.
    The site is bounded on three sides by the River Medina, the mouth of which lies some 2km to the north of the site. It is expected that the river will be tidal in this location.
    A mean water level of 0mOD has been adopted at the site margins. The highest astronomical tide in the Medina at Cowes is believed to be approximately 2m OD. Alluvium encountered above this level would be expected to be ancient.’
    The use of the phrase ‘It is understood’ allows one to infer that it was not the specialists who made this observation regarding surface water features but simply hearsay evidence.
    I just do not understand how this location can be described as ‘The site is bounded on three sides by the River Medina.’ Does this mean that Arctic Road is due for severe flooding?
    It is with amazement that I read ‘It is expected that the river will be tidal in this location.’ May I personally confirm that just outside my house the river rises and falls twice every day and submit that as evidence that the river is indeed tidal.
    On the subject of ‘ The highest astronomical tide in the Medina at Cowes is believed to be approximately 2m OD ‘ may I advise I have a document freely available from the Cowes Harbour Office known as a ‘Tide Table’ which shows the highest spring tide this September in the Medina to have been 4.4 metres so the highest astronomical tide will be somewhat higher or shall we say more than twice the value stated.
    If we now look at the nitty-gritty of this pivotal document one finds under
    ‘6.1 General’ the following caveats;-
    ‘There is currently insufficient Geotechnical information to carry out a rigorous slope stability analysis of the perimeter screening bund. Further ground investigation is required in order to confirm the soil sequence
    beneath the waste, and to sample the soils in order that testing can be carried out to enable the derivation of suitable design parameters.
    The existing and proposed topography also needs clarification’.
    And yet again in ‘7.0 Bund Settlement’ where the specialists add even more bottom-covering verbiage necessitating further fees;-
    ‘Based on currently available information it seems likely that the bund will be constructed over waste and Alluvium. Both materials are prone to consolidation under load and it is likely therefore that the bund will settle.
    The amount of settlement cannot be estimated with any confidence at present’
    For goodness sake how many weasel words can a professional geotechnical company actually manage to fit into such a paper which is literally purporting to support a planning application which may if foolishly approved detrimentally affect the physical and
    mental health and well-being of thousands of poor souls like me who simply wish to enjoy their lives in the Medina Valley?
    This submission relies on falsely assumed data for its basic calculations and lazily makes more assumptions than I have seen for a long time. Thus if the data is suspect what validity may be placed on the entire findings of this ‘Review’ or for that matter the entire application?
    Please consider this objection alongside others in which the applicant’s credibility is subject to severe doubt and recommend REFUSAL of the application to save the Council’s Planning Committee any further embarrassment.
    Yours faithfully
    Michael Douse
    Mr W Murphy
    Head of Planning
    Isle of Wight Council
    Seaclose Offices

    This is not ‘Scaremongering’ this is ‘DEMOCRACY’ whereby objectors take the time and trouble to alert the IW Planning Department of so called ‘Consultants’ who continue to make erroneous statements within the Eurovia Planning Application which would otherwise remain unchallenged.

    Thank you ‘Harvey for your clear warning of potential floods and consequent pollution on an old landfill site which before 1913 was an Oyster Bed.

    All you have to do ‘Mr Ghost’ is look at the old OS Maps in the County Records Office. The clue is in the words ‘Oyster Beds’ normally found to operate at or below river level!

  5. I do not believe it

    3.Jan.2013 5:54pm

    Einstein’s Ghost?

    Ah yes! Not E equals MC squared it’s EG equals MC squared!


    Einstein’s Ghost equals Moron times Clot squared!

  6. downwind resident

    3.Jan.2013 6:49pm

    Thanks Harvey.

    O.K. so that’s

    Air pollution,
    Contaminated land,
    Malodorous stink,
    Noise pollution,
    Light pollution,
    Cancerous Coal Tar,
    Visual impact,
    River pollution.

    Have I missed anything?

    Oh yes!
    The unexpected Flooding of an old Oyster bed!
    Surprise surprise!

    How much more does’Einstein’s Ghost’ aka Vladavid Pughtin and the IW Council Planning Committee need to refuse this ‘SILLY’ planning application?

    • James Luke

      4.Jan.2013 10:37am

      You missed the traffic congestion on Newport Road … not just the asphalt leaving the plant but the road scrapings being returned to it and the bitumen that will be brought in by road from the ferries.

  7. john langley

    3.Jan.2013 7:49pm

    I am more and further convinced of the folly of locating the asphalt plant in Cowes. I have publicly supported the Bardon Vectis application for various reasons but I did not consider the important flooding question in my letter to Seaclose. Looking back, I should have realised that the Cowes site needs to be built high above the potential flood levels perhaps on stilts but that would result in increase noise pollution as the bund and acoustic panels would be too low to protect nearby residents. And should St George’s Down find itself under water in the future then the best we can all do is forget roads and invest in rowing boats. Simples!

  8. happy daze

    3.Jan.2013 9:35pm

    As you may infer from my name I have a short memory.

    Please help me remember.

    Is this the same asphalt plant that the Isle of Wight Council said did NOT need an Environmental Impact Assessment back in April 2012?

    Is this asphalt plant in a different place to the one shown in the planning application that Mr David Crook on behalf of Mr Pickles the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and/or Environment etc. decided that an Environmental Impact Assessment was definitely NOT needed?

    Is this all about some asphalt plant other than the one which the Isle of Wight Council’s own professional Environmental Health Officers have written in unequivocal terms to the Plannning Case Officer to recommend a REFUSAL to the Planning Committe should they ever actually sit on this one?

    Is this to do with an asphalt plant we have been told by the Cabinet Member for the Highways PFI that is not required for the Highways PFI Contract?

    Someone please let me know the answers.

    You can’t possibly imagine what it’s like having such a short memory.

  9. Matthew James Martin

    3.Jan.2013 10:09pm

    I asked back in August 2012 at the East Cowes Town Hall meeting that we are continued to unite over this issue and any given future issue on the Island.

    I am very thankful to see how many people are now all coming together in one way or another, so that democracy begins to return to Island Politics and we truly consider the future, when scrutinising any given strategic implementation.

    I am also extremely thankful for how many experts from various fields have gotten involved in scrutinising the Eurovia application and have publically supported the WRAP campaign.

    It is clear how many of us truly care about what we leave behind for our children and our children’s children and so on. Furthermore, we do not have to be a parent, to care about how we sustain Life and there are people on our Island demonstrating that each and everyday.

    We are truly recognising that those who have addictions to Power, will no longer to be tolerated and be held accountability, so that true logic and rational is at the heart of the future we create.

    How many more questions have to be asked of the Eurovia planning application, before the Isle of Wight County Hall Officers and Cabinet start to admit that oversights have made? When will all parties begin to consistently reject the planning application throughout the whole of the appeal process, so that we can truly progress a successful P.F.I Highways strategy?

    Does the WRAP Facebook page have to have 140,000+ likes, before this application gets completely rejected and the Bardon Vectis site is granted its own planning application?

    When will Mr Beynon, Mr Brown and Mr Pugh finally learn that not one human ever existed that didn’t make some kind of mistake? Sometimes we all have to hold up our hands and simply state ”Sorry, I got that one wrong. Please share your idea with me, so that we can review this and move forward with a new strategy and approach”?

    Kudos Harvey!

  10. James Luke

    3.Jan.2013 10:11pm

    The Met Office are stating that we should be preparing for more extreme weather =>

    I wonder …. should we consider the warnings of Scientists at the Met Office to be “scaremongering” …. or should we take them serious and re-consider development on flood plains?

  11. peaceful_life

    4.Jan.2013 5:23pm

    One can’t help but witness the irony of the situation where a ‘side issue’…that’s actually the main issue… is ‘classed’ as ‘scaremongering’… in order to carry on with the buiness as usual that brought about the main issue.

    Things most certainly are ‘silly’ when credible scientists are considered ‘guilty’ for putting forward credible science that’s coupled with observable facts, indeed…Mr Canute alluded to the futility of ignoring physics back in the 9th century, but that was a while back, and we now have the IPCC, Met Office, Tyndall Centre, NSIDC etc etc……telling us… in NO uncertain terms……. we MUST change, or be changed.

    There are also alternatives to ashpalt.

  12. Tanja Rebel

    5.Jan.2013 5:03pm

    Indeed, there are alternatives to asphalt. However, it will take a while before we wake up to that one. In the meantime, let us at least spare the Medina River Valley from further unnecessary exploitation.

    As has been pointed out again and again, there is already an alternative Asphalt Plant on the island which will be able to do the job. So many residents are against this application that our rulers would do well to listen to this public outcry as well as the protests against a possible Biomass Plant along the same river. Lets not forget the elections this spring…

  13. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear in the coming months of a DELEGATED DECISION being hushed through,i mean as quietly as possible,after all, these top council ‘persons’have to think of their future prosperity plus the living standards they have become accustomed to

    • downwind resident

      5.Jan.2013 10:35pm

      So which Council officer do you think ‘ohmy’ would have the ‘courage’ to take that decision in the clear knowledge that a Judicial Review will swiftly follow and pursue him/her to the bitter end .

      More likely the Planning Committee will be advised by their political masters to refuse the planning application in the hope that they will be acclaimed by a grateful public in the forthcoming elections and then sit back and watch the Appeal process.

      Why don’t Vinci/Utopia simply withdraw their
      ill -fated proposal and think again?


    6.Jan.2013 8:15pm

    It is worth noting that the construction of the Cowes & Newport railway (now cycle track) was bedevilled by delays due to “considerable quantities of unstable clay” and “wet weather [leading to] a series of slips in embankments and cuttings” (The Isle of Wight Central Railway p.21). The problems were so bad that eventually “the contractor [gave] up the contract after battling with earth slips for months.” (p.24). Once the railway line had been built significant manpower was needed for regular inspections of the line for potential subsidence and to take remedial action. They did not have to cope as well with inherently unstable waterlogged unspecified landfill contents.

    A further flood risk comes from the two streams which feed into the Medina either side of the proposed site. North : through Bottom Copse to emerge opposite Cowes Power Station. South : through Calving Copse at Medham.

    Some of the areas worst affected by flooding in New York City had been built on former oyster beds.

    “Scaremongering” is simply a boo-word (emotionally coloured language which always has a negative meaning e.g. pig-headed – I am firm, you are obstinate, he is pig-headed). It is a mere assertion used as a substitute for evidence and argument to counter the points being made, part of the small-change of poor quality political debate. To take an extreme case, in the 1930s Winston Churchill’s warnings about the dangers of German remilitarisation were based on hard evidence and sound arguments. His opponents just didn’t want to hear what he said. They couldn’t counter it so resorted to the cheap option of rubbishing his claims as hysterical and paranoid scaremongering.

    Apart from locating an asphalt plant next to the Royal Yacht Squadron this is about the stupidest site that could be imagined from virtually any point of view. If it went ahead it would be a massive strategic own goal, bringing the dark satanic mills back to the Medina Valley and reversing at a stroke all prospects of its commercial and residential regeneration, the last thing we need in the present gloomy economic climate. Logistically it makes no sense to site the distribution point for a perishable product on the periphery of the Island. Saying it is a good idea to make asphalt next to the aggregate import site is a bit like saying it is a good idea to make omelettes next to a chicken farm at Medina Wharf for onward distribution to Bembridge, Ventnor, Freshwater etc.

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