Category: Articles

Caversham GLOBE oppose EA planned Flood scheme of Walls and Bunds – Asking for natural Flood defences

The Environment Agency has been running multiple consultations regarding a flood defence scheme based on heavy engineering of walls, bunds and a conveyancing channel proposed for North Reading and Caversham.

Caversham GLOBE is opposed to this approach owing to the destruction of hundreds of trees and large areas of habitat that would be lost wherever the walls, bunds, and the channel would be built (approx. 5 km of walls running through parks and riverside, a 25m wide conveyance channel running from the Christchurch meadows play area across George Street into Hill’s Meadow would lead to the loss of a large swathe of the iconic avenue of Lombardy poplars. Relocation of the play area would result in the loss of well used open areas of Christchurch Meadows, part of the Hill’s Meadow car park and many trees there would also be removed.)

Amersham Road playing fields and the area around Dean’s Farm would also be badly impacted by walls and bunds.

Hedges would be ripped out and replaced by a wall along the Reading side of the river between the two bridges.

The EAs estimates CO2 emission of over 24,000 tonnes from the walls and bunds alone.

 Walls could be a magnet for anti-social behaviour including graffiti.

We would instead prefer that the EA look into more natural flood defences further up/downstream instead of solely relying on concrete walls and bunds.

Treeline at risk in Christchurch meadows
Treeline at risk in Christchurch meadows

Examples of more natural approaches are common across the country in other flood schemes: one example is the Denham, Suffolk flood scheme that has implemented natural flood defence approaches (storage of excess water, whilst also creating habitat).

This is mentioned in the EA published case study data on 31st October showing the use of natural flood defences as part of flood management schemes:

“The study includes a project in Debenham, Suffolk, where modelling has shown that installing a range of natural flood management features along the River Deben could provide more than 30,000 m3 of water storage – thereby reducing annual average damages to properties and farmland by 31%.”

Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/natural-flood-management-part-of-the-nations-flood-resilience

You can also see information on the three instances of natural defence ‘features’ already implemented in the Debenham project on their website:

http://www.greensuffolk.org/flooding/hwmp/debenham-flood-management-project/

The Famous row of Poplar trees and others in Christchurch meadows are at risk from conveyancing channel which will go through George street

Grants for property-based flood resilience?

New builds are increasingly building in a variety of flood defence/flood resilience mechanisms, why not apply some of these approaches to the few properties actually at risk?

For example, the scheme could give out grants to retrofit items like flood-proof doors, non-return valves, closable air bricks, replacement of floor with flood resilient materials, moving electrics higher up walls etc.

You can read more about these measures in the ‘Know Your Flood risk’s Homeowner’s guide to flood resilience’ here:

http://www.knowyourfloodrisk.co.uk/sites/default/files/FloodGuide_ForHomeowners.pdf

Government and EA sees Natural flood management as important:

We are not alone in thinking that natural defences should be used in flood schemes, as Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, said:

“Natural flood management is an important part of our approach, alongside traditional flood defences and helping homeowners to improve their own property resilience. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to flooding and this scheme is a fantastic example of how we can use a variety of measures that work together to reduce flood risk.” 

Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/schemes-across-the-country-to-receive-15-million-of-natural-flood-management-funding

Plus, the government obviously sees natural flood defences as important, as they announced 15 million pounds worth of extra funding towards natural defence approaches back in 2017:

Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/schemes-across-the-country-to-receive-15-million-of-natural-flood-management-funding

What can you do?

The scheme is still in the consultation phase and so we encourage readers to share their views on the current scheme.

You can contact the EA flood scheme project directly via email: reading&[email protected] as listed on the flood schemes consultation page: https://consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/thames/reading-and-caversham-flood-alleviation-scheme-inf/

In addition, you can contact your local Councillors to encourage them to oppose this ill-conceived scheme. Find your local Reading councillor by ‘ward’ here:

http://www.reading.gov.uk/councillorsbyward

Want to read more about Natural Flood Management (NFM)?

More information about Natural Flood Management (NFM) can be seen in the EA presentation ‘Working with Natural Processes – the evidence behind Natural Flood Management’ on the River Restoration Centre website here: https://www.therrc.co.uk/sites/default/files/files/Guidance_training/NFM_Roadshow/Dec_Eng_Grads/13dec_enggrads_nfmoverview_lydiabg.pdf

The silent killer on Caversham’s busy roads – 2018

The harm to human health and our environment of “Poor Air Quality” has been the subject of international, UK and local media discussion for some years. The alarming measurements taken by Caversham GLOBE (Go Local On a Better Environment) group, as part of a national campaign organised by Friends of the Earth (FoE), reveal the dangerous levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in central Caversham.  Special test tubes were obtained and installed to measure the amount of harmful and dangerous nitrogen dioxide (micro-grams per cubic metre) on some local roads and the results were analysed by Gradko Laboratories of Winchester.

These results, in µg/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre) are as follows:

Caversham Location  Dec 2017  March 2018                July 2018            Sept 2018
Church Street/Prospect Street jnc     Not tested  41 µg/m3    41 µg/m3    34 µg/m3
Near Church St/Priory Ave jnc  Not tested  47 µg/m3    49 µg/m3   40.5 µg/m3
Church Road/St Anne’s Road jnc  56 µg/m3  57 µg/m3    50 µg/m3   41.5 µg/m3
Peppard Rd near Prospect St jnc  Not tested 54 µg/m3    71 µg/m3   48.5 µg/m3

This means we’re breathing in dangerous particles! The legal MEAN ANNUAL limit for nitrogen dioxide is 40µg/m3. These alarming results show just how bad pollution is on our roads and how dangerous they are for residents, pedestrians and cyclists.

Of more concern is the equivalent information that RBC has collected for air quality measurement – see below – showing that THREE CAVERSHAM LOCATIONS HAVE EXCEEDED THE MEAN ANNUAL LEGAL LIMIT FOR THE PAST NINE YEARS

What is to be done? Who will do it?  When? These crucial questions and many more need some answers. This matter has now been raised with the RBC Strategic Environment and Transport Committee. However, the agenda papers of 21 November 2018 on Air Quality (search for 7 page RBC document at http://www.reading.gov.uk/article/11415/Archived-meetings-from-01-September-to-31-December-2018 ) does not make any reference to AQ readings north of the Thames, even though Prospect Street readings have been above the illegal limit for many years and GLOBE’s AQ readings are not mentioned. Residents groups and RBC Councillors in north Reading need to develop a joint approach for remedial action underpinned with funding and commitment from RBC This could include more trees, street planters and green walls.  However, only by reducing the levels of polluting traffic exhaust fumes will residents, pedestrians and cyclists be able to breathe cleaner air in the long term.

Readers should also note that the infamous Cow Lane Bridges project will be completed in Spring 2019. This will result in increased eastbound vehicle traffic coming to Caversham Bridge junction with Richfield Avenue as well as more traffic coming from the north and east seeking a westbound route across town. Reading Borough Council proposes to restrict traffic in west Reading, on the Oxford Road, so that Portman Road, Richfield Avenue and Caversham Road will be an alternative route. High density of residential apartment blocks planned for Caversham Road, Vastern Road and nearby locations will also bring heavier vehicle traffic. Anyone can reasonably predict longer traffic queues, slower journey times and increased air pollution. Action is overdue. Meantime, best advice might be “hold your breath”? 

Contacts:

www.cavershamglobe.org.uk

https://www.facebook.com/cavershamglobe/

February 2019 ref: GLOBE/Air Quality.

Would you like to share this article? Here it is as a pdf (you can right click and press ‘save as’).

Reading decisively rejects Gladman development proposals

Gladman siteRBCs planning committee voted unanimously last night to send strong objections to South Oxfordshire on the speculative application from Gladman to build 245 houses on open countryside immediately adjacent to Emmer Green.

All of the public speakers and councillors spoke in very robust terms against the application which GLOBE believes to be unsustainable, contrary to the approve SODC local plan and objectionable on many other grounds including ecology and the burden on local services and the road network in Reading.

More information on the CAGE campaign web site www.cagedunsden.org/

South Oxfordshire will decide the application at a planning meeting in March and we urge GLOBE supporters who have not yet expressed their concerns to send objections to SODC.
www.southoxon.gov.uk/ccm/support/Main.jsp?MODULE=ApplicationDetails&REF=P16/S3630/O

Mapledurham playing fields ‘most supported site’ for Heights school location

Reading council have released the results of the survey regarding new location for ‘Heights

Mapledurham playing fields
Mapledurham playing fields

school’ in Caversham.

The Heights school is currently in a temporary site next to Westfield Recreation fields in Caversham.

Mapledurham playing fields came out first with 70% of survey participants saying they would support it as the new school location.

The results have been passed onto EFA for a decision.

Apart from the fact that there is clearly a need for more school places, it is a pity for green space to be sacrificed.

Want to read more?

  • The Reading Chronicle has published an article here.
  • The full stats from the survey can be seen on RBC site here.

Get walking or pedalling! – avoid reading bridge work delays

Caversham commuters are seeing increased travel times as they find that can’t drive over the Reading bridge due to strengthening works. The reading bridge is closed for two weeks from Monday, 18th May 2015.

Reading Bridge may be closed to Cars/Truck. But walkers can still use it.
Reading Bridge may be closed to Cars/Trucks. But pedestrians can still use it!

Well, I have some good news for you… The bridge is still open to pedestrians/bike users on foot…

So if you are going into reading or close by, why not ditch the car for the two weeks and save some time!

Plus, it will save you sitting in the traffic jams, while also saving fuel costs and giving you some nice health benefits.

PS: If you want to see updates on the Reading bridge strengthening progress, get reading have a page up here.

 

Certificate given to GLOBE for 25yrs of RESCUE

GLOBE receives certificate for 25 years of ‘Outstanding & Continued comittment to improving the local area’

Caversham GLOBE were very pleased to receive this award at RESCUE event celebrating 25 years of Reading RESCUE (Rivers and Environmental Spaces Cleanup Event).

Certificate given to GLOBE for 25yrs of RESCUE
Certificate given to GLOBE for 25yrs of RESCUE

Background on RESCUE

RESCUE was started in 1989 by a group of committed and concerned canal users from West Berkshire and Reading, the Rivers & Environmental Spaces Clean Up Event has changed tremendously over the years.  It has grown to include business sponsorship and urban areas.

You can read more on RESCUE and get involved by visiting their website:

http://readingrescue.org.uk/

Reading RESCUE October 2014

Reading BridgeSeveral items of flytipping and old metal road signs dredged out of the Thames at Reading Bridge by Caversham GLOBE supporters this weekend.

Our contribution to the October Reading RESCUE event which took place across the town from 9-11 October. An old shopping trolley was also pulled from the river at King’s Meadow.

The wonderful volunteers hard at work planting!

GLOBE Volunteers and the Church street planters

In April 2011 Reading Borough Council (RBC) told Caversham GLOBE that, due to budget cuts, the Council would no longer be maintaining the 22 planting boxes along Church Street Caversham. These planters had been installed by RBC in 2001 as a millenium project to improve the appearance of Caversham village centre. In 2012, Caversham GLOBE agreed to look after the 10 RBC planters on the BT Telephone Exchange frontage. The following year, encouraged by the Caversham Traders Association (CTA), GLOBE extended its work to include the 12 RBC planters on the north side of Church Street. This is how it was reported in the local paper “Get Reading” in May 2013 when the planters were all woodstained, selectively pruned and partially replanted.

'Winning the right to tidy' - Getreading article
‘Winning the right to tidy’ – Getreading article

Thanks were due to the Caversham Traders Association, Drews Hardware for materials and RBC for a small grant. 10 Caversham GLOBE activists gave up much of their Bank Holiday time to carry out the first stage of painting and replanting. Then six volunteers from Scottish & Southern Energy Vastern Road Offices, as part of their “Community Programme”, later assisted in concluding these improvements for Spring 2013. Five of the Caversham traders made the generous gesture of paying the costs of buying new plants. GLOBE subsequently watered and replanted, with the help of Green Shoots Garden Centre (part of the Ways and Means Trust Charity).

[one_half]

The wonderful volunteers hard at work planting!
The wonderful volunteers hard at work planting!

[/one_half]

[one_half]

The end result - GLOBE still maintain these plants to this day.
The end result – GLOBE still maintain these plants to this day.

[/one_half]

In June 2014, as result of the installation of Bicycle Hire stands, some of the planters on the BT Exchange forecourt have been replaced and we await replanting by Reading Borough Council. In the meantime,GLOBE has been encouraging BT Facilities Management to implement a maintenance programme for a tidy frontage and removal of the remaining redundant railings. This eyesore should soon be just a bad memory!

btexchange_before
This eyesore should soon be just a bad memory!

Richard Denney October 2014

Caversham GLOBE

Latest GLOBE Annual Report published

Caversham GLOBE’s Annual Report for the calendar year 2013 has now been published following approval at our AGM on 24 June 2014. It shows the huge range of local environmental issues and activities that Caversham GLOBE supporters have been involved in. The report can be found on the Downloads – Reports page.