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

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

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19 Comments on "Asphalt Plant: Flooding risks raised by objector"

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Mr Einsteins Ghost

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

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

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.

Tom Spragg

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

Black Dog

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

michael douse
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… Read more »

Much respect to you Harvey. And to all those who clearly know all too well what they’re talking about in this matter. Keep on keeping on, & we will follow….

I do not believe it

Einstein’s Ghost?

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


Einstein’s Ghost equals Moron times Clot squared!

downwind resident

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

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.

john langley
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… Read more »
happy daze
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… Read more »
Matthew James Martin
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… Read more »
James Luke

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?

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… Read more »
Tanja Rebel
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… Read more »

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
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… Read more »
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.”… Read more »