‘IT’S not what the residents want to hear’, but the Port of Milford Haven is not required to fund changes to culverts draining water from Haven’s Head, its engineering director has said.
A number of residents were forced from their homes in Haven’s Head by devastating flooding in November last year, as were people living in Lower Priory.
At Tuesday’s (June 11) services overview and scrutiny committee at Pembrokeshire County Council the latest report, commissioned by the port, into what happened during the flooding and what could be done to prevent it in future was discussed.
This was the third meeting to discuss the incident and the work that has been carried out since, as well as looking at what could be done in the future.
A report to the committee made a number of recommendations for future developments and research that could be carried out, with members reminded that the council also had no statutory duty to carry out flood alleviation works.
Resident Sarah Rees said: “At the end of the day you own the land through which the culvert runs through, so therefore you own the culvert.
“Haven’s Head has been developed by the port authority and its predecessors and the planning approved by the county council and its predecessors. We look to you to resolve this for us.”
But Tim Bownes, engineering director, said that the port’s “liability is to maintain the culvert system as it is. It’s not the response the residents are looking for but that’s where out liability is resting at the moment.”
The system was put in place in accordance with planning rules at that time, although new developments face more “onerous” policies.
Hubberston councillor Viv Stoddart argued that there was a legal obligation to ensure water can be dealt with properly by those that have “interfered with a water course” including in the case of flooding caused by extreme weather.
Cllr Rhys Sinnett added that if improvement works are to be made there was a legal and moral obligation to do so.
He added that it appeared that the culverts “as they are cannot cope with the amount of water going through them at the moment and it’s not enough to say to residents this is the way it’s going to be, prepare yourselves.”
The backfilling of the pill was raised as an issue by Cllrs Stephen Joseph and Mike Stoddart, with a closer look at past planning applications to be carried out.
Eight recommendations were approved by the committee including commissioning technical work to look at the feasibility of improvements, establishing a working group to examine the flooding issue, with a separate group set up for emergency response discussions, and improving formal local liaison with residents and the port authority.
An update on the work will be brought back to the committee in November.