Cogges Link Road inquiry: day 6

October 6th, 2011 by Kate Griffin Leave a reply »

This took place on Friday 30th September.

Town councillor Duncan Enright, non-statutory objector, spoke against the road but we missed it because of confusion over the starting time. The cross-examination of Alastair Elder, flood expert for the county, then resumed. There was much discussion about weirs, though no formal plans for a weir have yet been drawn up.

Mr Beglan, one of the lawyers for the anti-road side, raised concerns over the existing flooding model, since the 2007 floods proved this to be unrealistic about how much water stays within the riverbanks. Other points raised by Mr Beglan:

  • Environment Agency guidance on building on floodplain advises a “cautious” approach.
  • Third-party impacts of the CLR flood risk include damage to commercial premises, e.g. Two Rivers Industrial Estate.
  • Increased flood risk is only justified under the “exception test” if the sustainability benefits of the development outweigh it.

David Condon, non-statutory objector, then questioned Mr Elder. He asked Mr Elder to acknowledge that it could be disastrous for Witney if his flooding model proves not to work in reality, and Mr Elder acknowledged this.

Mr Condon then asked why it was so difficult to design a more reliable model, using 2007 data. Mr Elder explained that flood storage modelling is an iterative process and running the different models takes time.

Wyn Devonald, non-statutory objector, asked “Don’t you have a duty of care to protect our homes and businesses by using the latest software [i.e. the 2D modelling software developed in late 2010]?” Mr Elder replied that 2D modelling had been used for the parts right by the Cogges Link Road but was not considered necessary elsewhere. The software had not been invented when the modelling process began.

Mr Elder also stated that high ground on the proposed link road site is intended to act as an embankment to protect the industrial estate from flooding.

The inquiry was adjourned until 10am on Tuesday 4th October.

Edited to add some details of Mr Enright’s statement, emailed to us after the fact by someone who was there. Mr Enright’s main points:

  • 93% of people whose doors were knocked during a survey objected to the CLR.
  • Even people in Bridge Street, who are supposed to welcome the new road, are displaying posters against it.
  • People use the farm bridge to access the A40 west, indicating a need for western A40 access. The Cogges Link Road does not provide this. There is not a great deal of value in dumping people at the Sainsburys roundabout.
  • The designers seem to be trying to make people fit in with their model rather than looking at the journeys people actually make.
  • The proposed replacement playground is surrounded by roads the children would have to cross.
  • He believes he was elected in preference to a Conservative because of his opposition to the CLR.

Also edited to correct the spelling of Mr Beglan’s name.

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