Agenda item

Storm Henk - Flooding Update.


The Committee considered a presentation provided by the Director of Environment and Transport which provided the Committee with an update on flooding across the County following the recent Storm Henk.  A copy of the presentation slides, marked ‘Agenda Item 10’, is filed with these minutes.

Arising from the discussion, the following points were made:


i)                 Members noted that there were areas that had flooded which were unexpected and caught residents by surprise, these never having flooded before. Such residents were therefore unaware of what to do, or where to go for help.  It was suggested that the quick dissemination of basic information around what happened now and what would be done next, was necessary.  It was further suggested that communication via leaflet dropping would be helpful, as many homes were without electricity and might not therefore have access to other digital means of communication during this period.  The Council had a good network of people, including elected members which it could utilise, as well as Leicestershire Matters

ii)                A Member commented that flood warning signs that had been installed on Slash Lane in Barrow on Soar, which was notorious for flooding, had helped prevent additional problems. It was suggested that having flood warning information on mobile phone devices could help to divert people away from flooded roads which exacerbated problems and the response resources required to deal with cars getting stuck.

iii)              It was noted that the Department had been receiving valuable information from those that were on the ground during the response period.  Although it would be a long process to determine all the issues as there were many challenges, the expectations of residents would need to be managed and an internal communication group had been set up.

iv)              It was noted that a refreshed Leicestershire Flood Risk Management Strategy had been approved by the Cabinet in December 2023.  This provided a useful opportunity therefore to recommunicate messages regarding the need for residents to prepare.  There was a likelihood of such flooding events becoming more frequent as the last six Decembers had been noted as the wettest on record.

v)                Members questioned if the Rivers and Canals Trust continued to regularly dredge canals and rivers. It was suggested that British Waterways had in the past been proactive in doing this.  A Member commented that if such works were no longer taking place, or were but less frequently, this could be a contributing factor.

vi)              Members queried what the triggers for a Section 19 investigation were and requested that the Director of Environment and Transport circulate these to Members to help them support and guide residents. The Director undertook to circulate a copy of the Council’s Flood Risk Management Strategy which included such information, to the Committee after the meeting.

vii)            It was noted that investigations were lengthy processes and could take years.  For example, investigations were still ongoing for properties that had flooded in 2019. Members noted that resources and capacity would be an issue as the professional expertise needed to complete these would be in demand across a number of authority areas also affected by flooding.  It would be important to manage residents’ expectations in this regard. 

viii)           Members acknowledged that communications to residents would emphasise the need for them to take action and to be more self-resilient to these types of events, as there was much that individuals could do to protect their own properties.  It was noted that this would form part of the lessons learned process, which would consider how residents could take advantage of support available and what improvements could be made as a community and as individuals to help them be more resilient.

ix)              A Member commented on work undertaken by local farmers at the request of the police to clear roads and cut back trees that had been blown over during the storm.  Health and safety and insurance factors arose from such activities and the Member questioned what, if any, liability a famer might have for removing fallen trees using equipment such as chainsaws.  It was suggested that farmers could be called on, for instance by the Police, and clear guidance in such circumstances was needed to ensure this was done legally. The Director agreed to look at this as part of the lessons learned process and to provide the Committee with some clarification on the concerns now raised after the meeting.  Members recognised that it would be important for communities to be able to help themselves but that this had to be done safely.

x)                A Member commented that having attending a meeting of the Trent River Flood and Coastal Committee, it was clear that there had been huge impacts from the storm across the Midlands and that the Environment Agency were dealing with the matter. It was suggested that the process the Environment Agency used needed simplifying to ensure cases could be dealt with quicker.


The Lead Member for Highways and Transport commented that although the Department had only a small flooding team, it had done very well in supporting the residents in Leicestershire and thanked them and all staff involved in the response.

The Chairman, on behalf of the Committee, also thanked all the staff involved in the aftermath of the flooding who had provided excellent support to residents. 



a)     That the presentation on Storm Henk – Flooding Update be noted and the Committee’s thanks be passed on to officers involved in the response, noting the excellent work done during what was a very difficult and challenging time for all involved.

b)     That the Director of Environment and Transport be requested to:


(i)        provide an update to Committee Members on the outcome of the Lessons Learned Workshop to be undertaken at the end of January.


(ii)       circulate to Committee Members a copy of the Flood Risk Management Strategy which included details of the locally agreed thresholds that triggered a Section 19 investigation.

(iii)      provide clarification regarding the potential liability of farmers that were asked to remove fallen trees from the highway during bad weather.



Supporting documents: