Judicial Review Fund Raising

Councillor evidences need for Isle of Wight Council to change Draft Island Plan

December 13, 2023

Quote from local Ryde, Appley and Elmfield Councillor Michael Lilley’s website, post 13/12/2023:

Click to go to Petition: https://chng.it/ZBrzQN6DvN

I have sent the below letter to IW Council in response to extreme weather conditions on the Island and the human and environmental costs residents are facing whether flooding at Wootton Creek, recent flooding in Ryde and severe landslides in Bonchurch. I am putting my letters on-line. 

Dear Cllr Jordan, Stuart, and Fuller,

Further to last night’s Policy and Scrutiny Committee for Neighbourhoods, Planning and Environment, I wish re-emphasise the importance of the proposed draft Island Plan needing revision in light of the New National Planning Policy Framework (5th September 2023) especially in regard to Flooding. This is very relevant to recent extreme weather conditions experienced by the Isle of Wight this October, November and December especially on the East/South Coast of the Isle of Wight in the new East Wight Parliamentary constituency.

As a IW Councillor with a coastal ward (Ryde Appley and Elmfield) that has been severely hit by flooding in 2023 and as Chair of the Policy and Scrutiny Committee for Health and Social Care who is observing the real stress and anxiety of residents who have faced and facing the trauma of seeing their homes destroyed and living now in the Winter of 2023 with the reality of anxiety about the future as the rain continues, I urge you to listen to my words carefully. As IW Mental Health Champion I also urge you to understand the affects of climate change/extreme weather condition trauma.

The torrential rain we are experiencing is seriously changing the geology of the Island and as we have antiquated sewage and drainage systems on the Island and not adequate flood protection and water retention schemes, surface water simple either overflows into the ground causing erosion/landslides, or flows down hill into people’s homes especially at high tides. It totally overflows our sewage system on the East/South and just pours raw sewage into the sea.

From March 2022 to March 2023 there were 16787 hours when sewage was discharged by Southern Water into our waters. In October and November 2023 there was a single duration event lasting 681 hours non-stop at Sandown. The environmental combination of surface rainfall and sewage releases is getting so regular and significant that you cannot describe this other than an environmental crisis and emergency.

In the past, The Isle of Wight experienced fairly constant relative humidity levels between 79% and 83%1Rainfall patterns on the Isle of Wight were variable, with the least rainfall occurring in the summer months (24mm) and the most rainfall occurring in the autumn and winter months (63mm in November)1The average rainfall ranged from 45 mm (1.8 in) in the driest months (June, July) to 115 mm (4.5 in) in the wettest month (October)2.

In 2023, this has dramatically changed with 110 mm in August, 64 mm in September, 250 mm in October, and 200 mm in November. This accounts for an increase of rainfall by 100%. This dramatic rainfall has caused flooding rain with households/homes devastated in Ryde and huge landslips in Bonchurch in Ventnor. It is viewed that it takes 2-4 months for water on the Island through rainfall to react within the ground and the landslip in Bonchurch indicates that there could be other major landslides. 

I reconfirm my call for a moratorium on all large developments (over 10 houses or large commercial buildings) that are 0.5/1 mile from the coastline whether approved or in application stage until there is a detailed investigation and detailed discussions with Environment Agency, Southern Water, IW Council and other stakeholders. This is a climate and environmental crisis and IW Council needs to give reassurance to residents especially those who now face uncertainty due to homes affected by flooding and landslips. We cannot proceed with any major developments on greenfield sites near the coastline especially on the East unless there are new appraisals of these applications in light of the increased rainfall and the indication this could be the norm in the future.

Clearly, the world weather has radically changed and we need to urgently rethink the situation. I wish to highlight Sections 159-161 and 171 of the new National Policy Planning Framework which provide support and evidence for the IW Council to take moratorium action and amend the DIPS appropriately as follows:

159. Inappropriate development in areas at risk of flooding should be avoided by directing development away from areas at highest risk (whether existing or future). Where development is necessary in such areas, the development should be made safe for its lifetime without increasing flood risk elsewhere.

160. Strategic policies should be informed by a strategic flood risk assessment, and should manage flood risk from all sources. They should consider cumulative impacts in, or affecting, local areas susceptible to flooding, and take account of advice from the Environment Agency and other relevant flood risk management authorities, such as lead local flood authorities and internal drainage boards.

161. All plans should apply a sequential, risk-based approach to the location of development – taking into account all sources of flood risk and the current and future impacts of climate change – so as to avoid, where possible, flood risk to people and property. They should do this, and manage any residual risk, by:

(a) applying the sequential test and then, if necessary, the exception test as set out below;

(b) safeguarding land from development that is required, or likely to be required, for current or future flood management;

(c) using opportunities provided by new development and improvements in green and other infrastructure to reduce the causes and impacts of flooding, (making as much use as possible of natural flood management techniques as part of an integrated approach to flood risk management); and

(d) where climate change is expected to increase flood risk so that some existing development may not be sustainable in the long-term, seeking opportunities to relocate development, including housing, to more sustainable locations.

171. Plans should reduce risk from coastal change by avoiding inappropriate development in vulnerable areas and not exacerbating the impacts of physical changes to the coast. They should identify as a Coastal Change Management Area any area likely to be affected by physical changes to the coast.

We cannot continue to blindly ignore the realities of the extreme weather conditions and IW Council I believe needs to call an Environmental/Climate Change Emergency/Crisis and make this a priority and use its powers to call a moratorium and urgently write to the Minister of Levelling-Up and get support. If we don’t act now, the situation will get worse and residents will have no reassurance that their fears and anxieties are not being listened too.

We cannot carry on as normal and pursue a draft Island Plan to be put forward to members at full council to debate and vote on unless we as a Council amend it and have strategies in place to tackle the realities our residents are currently experiencing daily.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Michael Lilley

IW Councillor for Ryde Appley and Elmfield

Ryde Town Councillor for Ryde Appley and Elmfield

Chair of Policy and Scrutiny Committee for Health and Social Care

IW Mental Health Champion

Member of Liberal Democrat Group


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