Wednesday 17 November 2021

Thames Water and Environment Agency will attend Brent's January Scrutiny Committee to answer urgent questions on the flooding threat


  Recording of November 10th Public Realm and Resources Scrutiny Commitee

The recent Resources and Public Realm Scrutiny Committee heard a heart-rending story from a local resident about her experience in the recent Kilburn floods and from Brent Council officers about the authority's responsibilities regarding flooding and fluvial and surface water occurrences. 

Unfortunately the Council's main partners, the Environment Agency and Thames Water did not attend but will do so in January 2022. The officers' Report can be found HERE.


Ruined household items after the July floods on Westminster side of Kilburn Park Road (My London News)

The importance of hearing directly from Thames Water is highlighted by this extract from the My London News coverage of the July floods LINK:

Speaking to the subcontractors working for Thames Water attempting to lower water levels in the drains next to her property, [Aimee] asked about the chances of it happening again, to which one engineer reportedly told her: “The whole system has been compromised. Of course it will happen again.”

Aimee, who is eight months pregnant, claims an engineer employed directly by Thames Water then took the subcontractors to one side in order to speak with them alone.

The following day, she says she was visited by a Thames Water employee who 'looked more senior' and told her the subcontractors 'should not have said that'.

But, when pushed, Aimee claims the engineer couldn't say the flooding would not happen again.

Post flood 'repair' photographed recently on my visit to South Kilburn Estate

As readers will know Wembley Matters has published a number of articles recently on flooding in the area in the light of the number of increased extreme weather events as a result of climate change. I posed a question to the November 22nd Full Council on this and the question and response are below:

1. Question from Martin Francis to Councillor Krupa Sheth, Lead Member for Environment

In the light of the increased prevalence of extreme weather events as a result of climate change and recent flooding in the borough, as well as a large number of new developments and increasing numbers of paved over gardens, does Brent Council:

(1) Intend to work with partners including the Environment Agency and Thames Water to review and revise Brent Council’s

(a) Flood Risk Management Strategy

(b) Surface Water Management Plan

(2) Advise property owners and developers on mitigation measures?


Under the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, Brent Council is responsible for reducing the risk of flooding from surface water, groundwater and ordinary watercourses as a Local Lead Flood Authority (LLFA). To continue to meet our responsibilities we:

· Develop, maintain, regularly update and apply a local Flood Risk
Management Strategy. The overarching aim of the strategy is to enable the long-term management of flooding arising from rivers, surface water and groundwater in the borough and to communicate the risks and consequences of flooding to our residents and businesses.

· Maintain a register of flood risk management assets (structures that have an effect on flood risk management). This includes all flood risk management assets such as culverts, watercourses and holding tanks. All drainage assets, including the Council maintained and maintained by Thames Water and Environment Agency are logged on Flood Station.

· Provide overall management for highway drainage (road gullies) on designated public highway. As Highway Authority, we manage the 20,700 road gullies within the borough via a cyclical cleansing regime, and also respond reactively to any defect or blockages on the network.

· Implement small scale schemes to address localised flooding problems such as broken gullies or gully pipes, or localised gully capacity problems. Larger scale capacity problems are within the remit of Thames Water who are responsible for the main drainage system.

· Respond to planning applications - As lead local flood authority, we are a statutory consultee for major developments and in accordance with the GLA plan for Sustainable drainage we ensure that a significant betterment (i.e. improved drainage arrangements) is incorporated into new developments.

This in turn reduces the risk of surface water flooding on our public highways.

· Produce and maintaining a flood risk asset register - All of our drainage assets are located on an asset register, which includes all non-tributary watercourses, culverts and attenuation tanks.

· Issue land drainage consents on ordinary watercourses and carry out enforcement - All works undertaken non-statutory main rivers must obtain consent form the council so we are able to oversee and audit all processes to ensure sustainable measure are undertaken.

Investigate significant local flooding events - As a lead local flood authority, we investigate all major flooding incidences and record the data.

As LLFA the council works in partnership with utility companies, Environment Agency and others in order to ensure that all appropriate measures are taken to mitigate flood risk. Plans are regularly reviewed and updated as risks and other factors change.

As a Category One Responder under the Civil Contingencies Act, the council has a responsibility to warn, inform and advise the public before during and after emergencies have occurred. We publicise warnings of severe weather and provide advice and information for residents on the council website to assist them prepare for potential severe weather events such as those that may cause flooding. The information provided also outlines what assistance the council is able to offer as well as measures that people can take to protect their own homes.



David Walton said...

Surprising how the officer's report at 3.1 entirely neglects to mention very real July 2021 Kilburn Vale Major Town major incident floods which damaged so many lives and homes also across borough boundary. While 3.2 states that 'reducing the long-term risk of flooding is not only a sensible investment but also an important task, not just for the council but for everyone'(this work was done by Brent/ DOE with the 1950's and 1960's public owned natural flood defence parks). No mention of destroying these same flood defences as being the new private-led innovation? 8.1 No human resources/ property implications?

It is difficult to establish who takes responsibility 2021 for the public owned natural flood defence parks of South Kilburn being so heavily compromised already (by private interests being government green lighted to build on them all), but clearly the Environment Agencies exit from River Westbourne and tributaries responsibility is pivotal, as all protection for these key flood attenuation investments remains totally Brent compromised even 4 months after the July floods. (The River Westbourne has flooded 4 times impacting 4 boroughs in 2021 to date).

New Brent 35+ sites and Westminster (Carlton Hill) tall/ mid rise buildings with many deep large scale underground car parks for (already built and pending) disrupting underground ad hoc with the floodplain Victorian river and tributaries culverts adds even more fuel to this reckless West London 'climate crisis building' project.

How can Brent cope 2021 with the costs of mitigating such massive scale 'damage and loss', this while City of Westminster residents watch mainly from behind enhanced engineered flood defences which even then, given up-river Brent compromised flood defences failed?

I would expect that a more up to date report is Brent pending. Carlton Vale Boulevard and Chippenham Gardens flood defence refurbishment works present opportunities right now to start to reverse some of the bleak future certain damages and losses being inflicted. Tree protection orders all along CVB and in the South Kilburn Public Open Space 100 veteran tree woodland would also help to calm the current over build 'there is no alternative' climate at Brent Civic Centre.

Philip Grant said...

Interestingly enough, Brent Council / Cllr. Krupa Sheth launched a new initiative yesterday, called "Let's Talk Climate!". You can read about it here in their press release:

It says that the Council 'aim to get more people involved in talking about our impact on the environment', and to 'tell us your ideas for how, as a borough, we can ... make Brent even greener, to encourage people to spend more time outdoors.'

It also says: 'A Climate Deal will also be published, to hold us all accountable for what we have said we can do differently.'

One thing Brent could do differently, to help alleviate climate problems like flooding caused by more frequent heavy rain storms, is to stop its own plans for building "infill" housing on Council owned land, such as Kilburn Square, Granville Park, the proposed expansion of the St Raphael's Estate onto Brent River Park (an existing flood plain!) and many other green spaces on Council estates across the borough.

Having Lead Members responsible for different subject areas within Brent's Cabinet is supposed to mean that there is joined up thinking across the Council. But when the Housing, Regeneration and Environment Leads all appear to be pulling in different directions, that doesn't seem to be working!