Portishead Branch Line – MetroWest Phase 1

The views expressed in this page do not represent those of the Planning Inspectorate. This page consists of content submitted to the Planning Inspectorate by the public and other interested parties, giving their views of this proposal.

Portishead Branch Line - MetroWest Phase 1

Received 26 February 2020
From Environment Agency


The Planning Inspectorate National Infrastructure Planning Temple Quay House 2 The Square Bristol BS1 6PN Our ref: WX/2019/133441/01-L02 Your ref: TR040011 Date: 26 February 2020 Dear Sir/Madam METROWEST DEVELOPMENT CONSENT ORDER ENVIRONMENT AGENCY – RELEVANT REPRESENTATION The Environment Agency remains fully supportive of the aims of the proposal, which is viewed as having considerable merit, as an integral element of a more extensive sustainable transport network. Notwithstanding the above, please find hereunder an outline of issues pertinent to the Environment Agency’s interests, which will require clarification and resolution, in the interests of the protection and enhancement of the water environment: FLOOD RISK MANAGEMENT The Agency has, on numerous occasions, advised the Applicant in respect of its concerns regarding various aspects of flood risk management. The Agency’s concerns have been compounded by the proposal’s supporting Flood Risk Assessment (FRA), which is viewed as being deficient in a number of respects. The Agency has specifically advised in respect of the FRA’s poor structure and lack of clarity, in addition to a number of noted repetitions and discrepancies/contradictions. Flood risk management Issues of particular concern to the Environment Agency include: • The potential high frequency of flooding of the proposed railway line. • The potential increase in flood risk to third parties, particularly in the vicinity of Portishead, Pill, Easton-in-Gordano and Clanage Road. • The climate change allowances adopted. • The provision of flood plain compensation i.e. is it adequate and is it provided on a hydraulically linked, level for level basis? • The use and understanding of the designated flood zones. • Details of works proposed in the vicinity of, and/or over main river culverts i.e. a ‘no additional loading approach’ has not been clarified, as previously requested. • The lack of confirmation that Environment Agency access requirements can be provided (there are noted contradictions within the FRA). • Details regarding associated development in Portishead. • The lack of confirmation the Environment Agency’s Flood Risk Activity Permitting requirements are fully understood. It is noted The Planning Inspectorate’s letter dated 24 January 2020 (Ref: TR040011) raised a number of the above concerns for the Applicant’s attention. The Environment Agency would advise that an additional flood risk modelling submission has been received for review, which is ongoing. GROUNDWATER AND CONTAMINATED LAND With regard to the documents submitted in respect of the potential for historic contamination along the proposed route and at associated development sites that will support the rail infrastructure, the Environment Agency would advise as follows: The Environment Agency has, throughout the pre-application consultation process, advised the Applicant of its concerns regarding the approach adopted in respect of the investigation of potentially contaminated land. The information submitted does not give the Environment Agency confidence that the applicant has adequately understood the potential risks associated with the development from potential historic contamination. Additionally, because the applicant does not appear to have undertaken a detailed and open-minded interpretation of the desk-based information available, the proposals to further investigate potential areas of concern may not, in our view, be comprehensive enough to determine the risk to the water environment. The wording of the documents submitted is such that potential risks appear to have been dismissed, prior to being properly assessed. All areas of potential concern should be subject to an appropriately detailed site investigation to allow for an assessment of risk, based on data and the context in which it is acquired. ECOLOGY AND BIODIVERSITY Issues of particular relevance to the Environment Agency include the treatment of watercourses and wetlands, together with the species that are dependent on such habitats, in particular otter, water vole, eel and other fish species. It is acknowledged that extensive survey work has been undertaken to identify potential risks to these habitats and dependent species however, the Environment Agency must be satisfied in respect of the proposed mitigation measures, to ensure any impacts are minimal and short-term. Additionally, measures must be included for habitat re-creation and enhancement, which must result in a net gain in biodiversity from the proposal. Additionally, the Environment Agency will require full details of how it is proposed to treat and control invasive species. A commitment to long-term control of species, including Japanese knotweed, would therefore be required. LAND INTERESTS With reference to the Environment Agency’s leasehold land and other land interests in the vicinity of the proposed route, the following comments must be noted: Full details are required in respect of how each of the parcels of land, where the Environment Agency is in occupation, or has an interest, will potentially be affected by the proposal and whether any impact will be on a temporary or permanent basis. Whether it is permanent or temporary, the Environment Agency will need to ensure suitable arrangements are in place, to enable it to continue to work operationally from the land in question. It is deemed essential to ensure that, if the proposal will affect any of the Agency’s leaseholds or land interests, it does not put the Agency in breach of any of its obligations, under agreements associated with any land affected. WASTE AND ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT The Environment Agency has previously advised the Applicant regarding the measures required to prevent pollution of the water environment and the specific regulatory requirements pertinent to the proposal and associated works. Accordingly, the Agency must be satisfied in respect of all relevant proposals, particularly those concerning pollution prevention and incident control and waste management, including potentially hazard waste. PROTECTIVE PROVISIONS The Environment Agency’s legal representative is still awaiting contact from the Applicant’s legal representatives regarding outstanding concerns in respect of the submitted Protective Provisions pertinent to the Environment Agency’s interests. STATEMENT OF COMMON GROUND A note from Womble Bond Dickinson dated 6 December 2019 (accessed through The Planning Inspectorate’s meeting noted dated 14 January 2020) states the Applicant will continue to work with the Environment Agency on water related issues. The Agency would advise that it is currently awaiting a draft copy of the Statement of Common Ground, as previously requested. It is important to note that, following recent storm events, the Environment Agency is currently in ‘Incident Mode’, which necessitates the prioritisation and re-direction of resources to ensure the protection of people, property and infrastructure in the affected areas. Therefore, while staff are engaged in their respective incident management roles, normal workloads are likely to be subject to delays. Should you wish to discuss this matter further please contact the undersigned. Yours sincerely Dave Pring Planning Specialist Direct e-mail [email protected]