The Planning Committee which will meet for the first time in June, would do no better than looking at the newly released Land Use statistics from the Ministry of Housing Communities & Local Government. They make for encouraging reading, especially for our district in Kent. Yet what with all the development proposed over the next 30 years, our Cllrs in our Chamber will need to be strong if they are to be the guardians of our environment.
A report by Herrington Consulting Ltd who undertook a Strategic Flood Risk Assessment for Folkestone & Hythe District Council and which has informed the Local Plan makes it clear 55% of the District is at or below sea level and in Flood Zone 3 area. Yet Data released by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, using Ordnance Survey data, says that only 43.4% of the land is in a Flood Zone 3 area. Which in simple terms means 38,254 acres of land is at risk of flooding. Most of this land is on Romney Marsh.
72% of the land or 63,462.6 acres is given over to agriculture in the district. This is the highest amount of land given over to agricultural in any district in Kent. 13.2% is given over to forest, open land & water or 11,635 acres. 2% is given over to parks for recreation meaning 1,763 acres are areas for football, walking the dog, playing cricket for example. Four thousand six hundred and seventy one (4,671) acres or 5.3% of the 88,142.5 acres which makes up the district is covered in housing and gardens. That is equivalent to 2,655 football pitches. The other 6.4% of the land is given over to Industry & Commerce (0.1%), Roads (4.4%) etc.
However, the loss of 881 acres, or 1% of agricultural land to develop Otterpool Park is insignificant to the likes of our Council and bedfellow Developer the Reuben Brothers and significant to others, who live inand around the potential development site.
Dover & Folkestone & Hythe Councils sit in the Dour region; which is the most water stressed region in the UK. Water is scarcer per person in the Dour Region than it is per person in Morocco or Egypt. Cllr Georgina Treloar (Green) at the Annual General Meeting on the 22nd May 2019 raised the issue of rising sea levels and scarcity of water.
Climate change is real and companies such as Affinity Water, the largest water only company in the UK, has built climate change into it’s business and environmental plan. It serves 160,000 customers across the Dover and Folkestone & Hythe Region which sit in the most water stressed area in the UK.
The Folkestone & Hythe local plan makes clear that our Council are bound to build 677 homes a year until 2037. To build these homes will need water and then a supply to them. The maths is simple. Residents per household for the Otterpool Park development so says the Developers Consultants, will be 2.4 persons. Times that by 10,000 homes equals 24,000 people. So it will be a town nearly the same size as Hythe. Now in AW’s business plans it’s predicted water demand over the next several decades in the region will rise due to population growth, more homes, and more businesses being drawn into the area by the prospect of gold, hidden in the development of Otterpool Park and the increase in economic activity.
Will the water be available to supply those needs, as the effects of climate change kick in. 2018 averasge global temperature was the fourth hottest year since records began, placing it behind 2016, 2017 and 2015.
Somewhere in the future approx 20/25 years it is predicted we will reach what is commonly known as the jaws of death – the point at which, unless we take action to change things, we will not have enough water to supply our needs.
AW abstract 90% of water supply from Chalk boreholes, with the remaining 10% supplied from the shallow gravel aquifer of the Dungeness peninsula.
The prospective Otterpool Park development is a 30 year project, if given the go ahead. The water needed to build Otterpool Park would be supplied by Affinity Water to the boundary of the site. The site would receive water from the Paddlesworth reservoir which has a capacity of 13.3 mega-litres, or just over five Olympic swimming pools.
Much has been made of the fact that Otterpool Park will be served by a reservoir situated at Paddlesworth in the Otterpool Park park planning application, specifically the Water_Cycle_Study. Paddlesworth is 184 metres above sea leavel nestled in the North Downs, for obvious reasons, to serve an area, which is low lying, within the District. According to the latest AW figures of December 2017, some 38,000 residents water supply is fed from this reservoir. Based on occupation figures of 24,000 people at Otterpool Park, together with the existing (2017) figure of 38,000 already being supplied, that means the combined population to be supplied will be 62,000 people – the size of Folkestone approx. All these people fed from one resevior at Paddlesworth.
If the climate keeps heating as is predicted there is no doubt in our minds that a desalination plant will be needed to feed water across the district between now and 2037. Cllr David Monk at the meeting at Hythe Bay school on the 12/9/17 admitted that a desalination plant could be a possibility. Further, an Environment Agency document -albeit it dated 2004 – it states at page 46 – Folkestone and Dover Water plan a small desalination plant at Hythe in 2019 and Southern Water propose the development of a desalination plant in the 2020s. It too was brought up in Parliament on the 13th July 2006 according to Hansard. And Albion Water who may well be responsible for water inside the boundary remain tight lipped about the possibility.
Based upon AW’s allowance of 155 lpd per person, the reservoir would have to supply 9.61 megalitres of potable water each and every day. Even if we assume that the aspirational figure of 90 lpd for each and every Resident at Otterpool is met (highly dubious) this would still mean that 5.9 megalitres of potable water would have to be delivered from Paddlesworth each day.
The capacity of Paddlesworth reservoir, as far as we are aware, has never been mentioned in the Water Cycle Study produced by the developers consultant. It is a fact that has purposely been ignored to conjure up visions of Bewl Water (31,000 mega-litres) or similar sized reservoirs across the UK. In actual fact, Paddlesworth reservoir only holds 13.2 megalitres of water as recently confirmed by AW after the additional upgrade of 3 megalitres and relining of the existing reservoir holding 10.2 megalitres. Paddlesworth has been designated as a reservoir, but in actual fact it is a transfer pool to supply 62,000 plus residents between 5.9 and 9.6 mega-litres each day.
The rate of supply into the reservoir has to be equal to that of the output. The question has to be asked: Can the groundwater resource at WRZ7 be guaranteed to deliver that amount of water given that the records show (Little Bucket Farm) that December 2017 was extremely low. To conclude and to put this into perspective:
62,000 people need to be supplied with, on average, 7.75 million litres of potable water each day. The proposed pipeline will be of 560mm diameter (500mm internal diameter) and 11 km in length (from Paddlesworth to Otterpool) Ignoring the existing pipeline, this will require 2.16 megalitres to fill before delivering water to the Otterpool properties. If the incoming supply is halted to the reservoir, the reservoir will be empty in less than 35 hours. This demonstrates that the designation of the Paddlesworth reservoir is just that. It is purely a transfer pool from pumped groundwater boreholes to residents homes.
Also lets’s not forget AW recommend that after the first 1,500 homes are built the project ought to be temporarily stopped for 12-18 months. This would enable them so to study water consumption rates and then apply what they learn, if they continue with the development.
Labour are against the development, as are the Lib Dems. However, the Greens are not promising to stop Otterpool Park like they are Princes Parade, as they do not believe it is a promise they could keep. The Shepway Green Party might be minded to search their conscience and say NO to Otterpool Park, like their opposition colleagues in the Chamber.
As climate change is the single biggest risk factor putting further unnecessary stress on our water system, when water is scarcer here per person than in Morocco or Egypt, building more homes than is necessary, is bonkers. 677 homes per year is enough, if we build more we will not just slide into the jaws of death but be swallowed by them too.
The Shepwayvox Team
Dissent is Not a Crime