The PEEL DEAL: PART 2
See Part 1 – Peel Holdings Incinerator Disgrace – click here…
Flood Risk Versus Economic Development?
Sluice Gates? Sluice Gates have never been so controversial. Indeed, last week there was a 43 page High Court judgement that delved into every definition of sluice gates conceivable, as Mrs Justice Lang ruled that the Environment Agency had got its classification wrong.
Her ruling has vast implications for Salford and beyond as, unless the Environment Agency successfully appeals, the Flood Zone around the Manchester Ship Canal will have to be downgraded, making it easier for Peel Holdings to stick its concrete developments up all along the 36 miles of the Ship Canal banks, which runs from Salford Quays and MediaCItyUK to Barton and beyond.
Sluice Gates? They are the things that, with locks, regulate water levels, and there's five sets of them along the Manchester Ship Canal. The main question was whether these sluice gates can be classed as formal flood defences or not.
If they are formal flood defences - which is how the Environment Agency defined them - under Government Policy Statement PPS25 they have to be disregarded when assessing flood risk, with an assumption that they don't work and remain closed at time of flooding. This puts the whole area around the Canal in Flood Zone 3a, with a High Probability of flooding – thus obliging Salford and Trafford councils to turn down most developments in the zone.
If the sluices aren't formal flood defences then, under the same Government policy, they are assumed to be working at times of flooding, putting the area in the lesser Flood Zone 2, with a Medium Probability of flooding.
As the Judge's report points out, Peel owns 300 acres of land in the vicinity of the Canal, and "much of this land is either developed or available for development…Designation in Flood Zone 3a adversely affects the value of the land because it reduces its development potential…"
The case in point was Pomona Island on the Trafford side of the Canal where Peel plans for 1500 dwellings had no chance of getting planning permission once the area had been classified as 3a.
The only way that the expert Environment Agency's decision to classify the area as Flood Zone 3a could be challenged was if it was deemed to be `irrational or perverse'.
The Judge ruled that, because the primary purpose of the sluices was not flood defence but to regulate water, while "sluices make a valuable contribution to flood reduction" they are not formal flood defences, and the Environment Agency's decision was therefore `irrational'.
The decision has cost tax payers 70% of Peel Holdings' costs and an `interim payment' of £55,000. Plus the floodgates are now open for Peel Holdings to concrete over vast swathes of the Manchester Ship Canal banks…
A story on Peels' barristers website 4-5 Gray's Inn Square, states that the new revision of the Flood Zones "will have (for Peel and other landowners) the highly beneficial effect that more land will fall within Flood Zone 2 so greatly increasing the prospect of its development".
A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said: "Following the court's judgment, we are considering our next steps and deciding whether or not to seek leave to appeal.
"Flood Zone 2 in the area of the Manchester Ship Canal remains unaffected by the judgement and it remains a requirement to conduct robust flood risk assessments in relation to local planning applications" the spokesperson added "We will be working closely with local authorities to ensure they are kept informed of any changes to the flood map, and to ensure they can interpret the map in relation to flood risk in the area surrounding the canal."
See Salford Flood Risk Map at the Environment Agency website - click here
PEEL DEAL PART 3 - How Many Jobs at Port Salford? Haven't we heard it all before with MediaCityUK? Coming soon...