As storms continue to batter Cornwall, talks have begun into the need for an action plan in case of flooding in Helston.
A meeting was held at the Guildhall on Tuesday evening last week, which was attended by around 70 residents – including many from the flood prone area of St John’s.
It was designed to be the first step into developing a flood plan for Helston, so that those affected by flooding would know who to turn to and action could be taken at an early stage.
Although the meeting did not specifically focus on Helston – with those attending told a separate group would be contacting residents as part of a consultation – it paved the way for further discussions in the future.
Kevin Barnes, of the Environment Agency, explained: “Local community flood plans are owned by parish and town councils, supported by communities.
“They contain practical information about what to do if it floods, identifies people’s roles and responsibilities – what you do and what you don’t do.”
The evening began with a talk from Professor Stephan Harrison of the University of Exeter’s Penryn campus, who spoke on climate change and the resulting flood risk.
He claimed flooding would get worse in the coming years, explaining: “When you put greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere it has to warm up. When you warm up the atmosphere it can hold more moisture.”
However, he added that it was difficult to predict to what extent, using models, as these were unreliable when it came to precipitation.
Dr Jennifer Moore, also of the University of Exeter, then spoke on the benefits of using students for research and offered their services to any flood plan development, before Martyn Alvey of Cornwall Council explained how the Flood Resilience Community Pathfinder scheme was working with others parts of Cornwall, such as Perranporth and Looe, to see how flooding can be better managed there.
In response to a question from deputy mayor Mike Thomas, who asked whether the project’s funds could be spent on physical works such as relocating plug sockets away from the danger of floodwater, Mr Alvey said that the money – which must be used by March next year – was for education.
“The work we’re doing will hopefully mean communities can have community resilience plans written,” he added.
The final talk came from Kevin Barnes of the Environment Agency, who explained which authorities were responsible for protecting towns, villages and homes from flooding – and dealing with the aftermath.
For example, the Cober being a main river is the responsibility of the Environment Agency – plus the St John’s road area, directly next to the Cober – as is the river at Lowertown, while Cornwall Council has responsibility from where it breaks and becomes an ordinary watercourse.
The Environment Agency must deal with river, tidal and reservoir flooding, but Cornwall Council is responsible for surface water and ground water flooding – and shares duties over river floods – and South West Water must deal with drain flooding.
The evening ended with those at the meeting being asked to imagine a flooding scenario in Helston and what steps they would take.