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Milford Haven: Port Authority denies Lower Priory flood liability

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A REPORT by civil engineering consultants Atkins concluded that obstruction of trash screens leading from Lower Priory did not materially contribute to the extreme flooding which took place both there and at Haven Head last November.
Over three days of torrential rainfall, fourteen properties were flooded at Lower Priory and there was significant flooding at Haven Head.
The Port Authority continues to deny any liability for damage caused by the flooding.
However, Hakin Councillor Mike Stoddart pointed out that Atkins’ assessment was based on evidence produced by Milford Haven Port Authority.
Councillor Stoddart alleged that Atkins’ finding could not necessarily be relied upon. He noted that the Port Authority had an obvious interest in saying the trash screens were not obstructed in order to support its claim it was not liable for the damage caused by the flood.
Defending the Port Authority’s position, both Andy Jones and Tim Bownes, said the report found that the major factor in the flooding was the large increase in levels of silt in the lakes at Haven Head and Lower Priory combined with high tides and unprecedentedly levels of rainfall.

Emotional moment: Ian Bannister from Lower Priory clearly upset by the damage caused (Pic: Herald)

Under further questioning from Mike Stoddart, Mr Bownes conceded that the electronic flood warning system had been a casualty of the flooding and had stopped recording the water volumes at Lower Priory well before the peak of the inundation.
When one resident produced photographs of a truck tyre in front of a trash screen taken in February which remained in place six months later, he was tersely told that the presence of the tyre did not count as an obstruction of the trash screen.
The resident shook his head in disbelief, while several councillors wondered what did constitute an ‘obstruction’.
Notwithstanding councillors accepting that silt build up contributed to the flooding, a number of members of the Services Overview Committee nevertheless probed the Port Authority’s actions in relation to the lakes.
Cllr Stephen Joseph observed that a large amount of infill had taken place at the lakes. He suggested that this, combined with the development of Haven Head over a former tidal plain contributed to the flooding.
This was a point made by a local resident addressing the Committee earlier in the day. She observed that were it not for the development at Haven Head, no flooding would have taken place.
Cllr Joseph further pressed on the culverting of water towards Haven Head. When he asked what inspections were carried out of the culvert when it was extended to take account of the increased infill of the lakes, he was told by Tim Bownes from the Port Authority that his point could not be addressed. Mr Bownes said, however, he supposed the relevant checks had been done at the time through the normal planning process.
When probed about the level of water drainage into the system, which included run off from the Johnston bypass, Mr Bownes said he believed that Atkins had taken into account the new housing developments and bypass drainage when preparing the report on last November’s flooding.
Cllr Viv Stoddart cited a legal precedent which she said indicated that, whether or not the extent of flooding risk was foreseen or not, a landowner diverting a watercourse or otherwise changing its characteristics was responsible for damage caused by subsequent flooding. She was asked to provide a copy of the precedent to the Port Authority so it could be considered by its lawyers.

Stephen Crabb MP visits flooded resident (Pic: Herald)

When Cllr Tony Wilcox asked about records of the amount of infill that had taken place and whether there was any record of volumes infilled at the lakes since 1991, he was told that the four-year statutory limit for planning for operational reasons had expired and no enforcement action could be taken by the local authority.
One issue arising from the report was the recommendation that the culverts should be increased in size to cope with increased volumes of water run-off. Several councillors asked why, if the current culverts were adequate and fit for purpose, was a recommendation made that the culverts should be increased to handle three times the volume of water they dealt with currently.
The Committee members were told that it was because the design assessment said that the system needed to handle a one in a one-hundred-years storm event.
Cllr Brian Hall noted the recommendations of the report, specifically the one relating the Council seeking its own advice on the issues raised by last November’s catastrophic flooding. He formally moved the recommendations should be adopted by the Committee so that rapid progress could be made to address residents’ concerns.
The Committee agreed that a working group should be established to streamline the reporting process and that the matter should return to the Committee for further scrutiny.

 

 

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Campers from Cardiff sent packing

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PEMBROKESHIRE Road Policing Unit (Pembrokeshire RPU) have this morning, June 5, reported nine individuals for breaching coronavirus regulations.

The occupants of the three vehicles, all from the Cardiff area, had moved barriers that had been in place to close off the carpark to the public and set up camp for the night.

A Pembrokeshire RPU spokesperson said ‘Three vehicles from the Cardiff area located at Abereiddy this morning.

“The occupants of the vehicles, who’d travelled down overnight, had moved the barriers that had been used to close the car park. Having done so they then set up camp nearby.

“All nine persons present were reported for breaching coronavirus regulations. One was further dealt with by means of an out of court disposal for possession of cannabis.

“Rubbish cleaned up, car park closure reinstated, vehicles escorted out of Pembs.”

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Police urge visitors to ‘check the rules’

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POLICE in Powys are reminding people to check the rules before they travel, as tourists from the Midlands, London and Bristol continue to visit despite lockdown restrictions.

Last weekend more than 1,000 cars were turned around by police in the Brecon Beacons after visitors attempted to access the area around Ystradfellte known as ‘waterfall country’.

Many of those stopped claimed they thought the rules around travel were the same as in England, while others had deliberately flouted them.

Seventy-two per cent of people reported for breaches of Covid-19 restrictions in Powys since March 27 have been from outside the police force area.

“I would like to thank the communities of Powys for their cooperation in recent months in complying with requirements of the Covid 19 legislation and also reassure them we are still working hard with our partners to police the restrictions that remain in place across Wales,” said Superintendent Steve Davies.

“Our officers have worked hard to engage with the public at every opportunity throughout these unprecedented times by explaining what we are doing and why, and encouraging people to make the best choices to protect public health in Wales.

“But where people have clearly flouted the rules we have dealt with them appropriately and issued fines.”

He said officers will continue to conduct stop checks throughout Powys and across the force area this weekend.

In England, people can now travel an unlimited distance for exercise and to access so-called ‘beauty spots’.

But the Welsh Government has said people must remain local – ideally not travelling further than five miles from their home – for exercise or limited leisure pursuits, and this also applies to anyone travelling across the border.

Wales’ three national parks – which include popular sites such as Snowdon, the Elan valley and the Pembrokeshire coast – currently remain closed to the public, as do all National Trust car parks and properties.

The latest Welsh Government advice is available at gov.wales/coronavirus.

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Coastal car parks at beauty spots remain closed

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THE RECENT changes in regulations reinforce that movement is restricted to your local area.

This has been identified by the Welsh Government as an approximation of a five mile radius from your home.

Members of two separate households from the same local area (not travelling more than five miles) can now meet outdoors, as long as they maintain social distancing.

You should aim to meet another local household as close to your home as possible. Always take care to maintain social distancing and hand hygiene.

Pembrokeshire County Council car parks at attractions and beauty spots (including public toilets) currently remain closed so you should check before travelling.

They remain closed as a clear message that travel remains restricted, and associated tourism amenities remain closed.

A critical point for all to note is that lifeguards are not currently patrolling beaches and toilets and other facilities are not open.

Full details of the car parking facilities which remain open for the local community can be found on the Council’s website:
https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/emergency-planning/service-changes

Councillor Phil Baker, Cabinet Member for Infrastructure said: “The emphasis is on careful, structured unlocking, and not to put in danger any of the recovery measures that relate to public health and not to undo the safeguarding that lockdown has delivered.

“We will continue to review and monitor this carefully and take cautious, measured steps only to provide the benefits of the eased regulations without putting our residents at risk.”

Motorists are reminded not to contravene parking restrictions – such as yellow lines – where they exist as parking enforcement is still being undertaken.

As with other service areas, car parks will be reviewed in line with current advice.

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