Part 1 Don’t FCUK with Ailish Erskine

Don’t fcuk with Ailish Erskine or Mrs Jane Clark (Owner of Saltwood Castle). Both of these women have been bent but never broken, which has only served to make them more determined to achieve their final goal – that being saving the trees and biodiversity at Mill Leese, Saltwood, from environmental biodiversity loss and destruction by the Environment Agency (EA).

Yes, they are wiser, but it’s wisdom born of pain, they’ve paid the price, but look how much they’ve gained; which goes to show, they like all women, they can can do anything. They are strong. They are invincible. They are women and we congratulate them for all their efforts to date.

Mill Leese (pictured above) for those of you are not aware is an environmental gem hidden away behind the back of Saltwood Castle, owned by Mrs Jane Clark and much loved and used by many.


Brief history

The Mill Leese Flood Storage Area (FSA) was conceived, designed and constructed by Folkestone and Hythe District Council (nee Shepway) in response to flooding in Hythe during 1994. The project repurposed a pre-existing & disused railway embankment (circa 1842) as the reservoir embankment. It came into operation in 1999 and was operated by F&HDC until 1st April 2006, when it was passed to the Environment Agency under the Critical Ordinary Watercourses Scheme. Under the scheme, ordinary watercourses were made “main river” if the watercourse posed a
significant flood risk to property. The Environment Agency is the flood risk management authority on legally designated main rivers.

However, theEA have designated Mill Leese as a “main river”, but it is actually a “stream” as set out in Kent County Council’s (KCC) 2017 document, Flood-risk-to-communities-in-Shepway

The Mill Leese stream flows through Saltwood and eventually discharges into the Royal Military Canal. Just upstream of Saltwood the stream is culverted beneath a disused railway embankment and by restricting the flow at this location using a Hydrobrake, flows downstream are controlled to provide a 1 in 100 standard of protection. The excess flow is stored in the natural valley upstream and dammed by the railway embankment, an area which forms the Mill Leese Flood Storage Area.

On the 12th August 1996, an intense rainstorm caused surcharging in the culverted section sand overtopping of banks in the open sections of the  Mill Leese and other local streams. Almost 100mm of rain fell in less than two hours, which was estimated by the Meteorological Office as being an event that had a return period greater than 1 in 500 years.

Water is intentionally stored by throttling flow through the Mill Leese embankment culvert using a “hydrobrake”. A hydrobrake is an apparatus that allows a predetermined maximum flow. Holding back flows and storing water during periods of intense rainfall reduces flood risk for communities downstream. As the event diminishes, water is automatically released at the controlled rate. A spillway tower sets an upper limit to the quantity of water that can be stored. Stored water is retained by the embankment. Up to 70 properties in Hythe benefit from reduced flood risk due to the operation of Mill Leese FSA.

If fully impounded (to the top of the spillway tower covered by snow), Mill Leese FSA will store 64,731 cubic meters of water. The prescribed form of record for the asset gives a storage volume of 392,000m3. This means that it comfortably falls within the definition of a large reservoir under the Reservoirs Act.

As the EA is the statutory undertaker for the Mill Leese reservoir, they are obliged under the Reservoirs Act to appoint independent Supervising and Inspection Engineers, who produce Section 12 reports every 6 months and a section 10 report every 10 years respectively. These reports have required the Environment Agency to carry out certain things in the interest of maintenance and reservoir safety. These include:

  • Developing a Vegetation Management Plan

  • Erecting a series of gauge boards up to the Probable Maximum Flood line.

  • Excluding badgers and rabbits from the embankment

Now for those of you who are not aware – the EA actually produced two versions of the Vegetation Management Plan. Both show the work to be undertaken by the EA.

It appears though they gave Mrs Clark, who owns the embankment & Saltwood Castle, the first version, as we understand.

First Version

Mill Leese Flood Storage Area Vegetation Management Plan  14/6/21

Second Version

Mill Leese Flood Storage Area Vegetation Management 20/09/21

Both documents set out what work the EA will undertake between 2021/22 and 2025/26. However, the EA have backed away from undertaking any work for the foreseeable future, this has been down to efforts by Ailish Erskine & Jane Clark, The Campaigners, Parish Cllr Frank Boland, KCC Cllr Rory Love OBE and Damian Collins MP, but more of that and other EA shenanigans in Part 2 of Don’t FCUK with Ailish Erskine.

The Shepway Vox Team

The Velvet Voices of Dissent

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1 Comment on Part 1 Don’t FCUK with Ailish Erskine

  1. Ailish Fan // October 22, 2021 at 06:51 // Reply

    I understand that Ailish has been invited to apply to become a candidate by greens and labour in f&h. She should decline

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