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Helston flood meeting paves way for community plan

By West Briton  |  Posted: January 30, 2014

Helston Mayor Jonathan Radford-Gaby, centre, is joined by the speakers at the flood meeting, from left, Martyn Alvey, Cornwall Council; Kevin Barnes, the Environment Agency; Jennifer Moore, University of Exeter; and Professor Stephan Harrison, University of Exeter.

Helston Mayor Jonathan Radford-Gaby, centre, is joined by the speakers at the flood meeting, from left, Martyn Alvey, Cornwall Council; Kevin Barnes, the Environment Agency; Jennifer Moore, University of Exeter; and Professor Stephan Harrison, University of Exeter.

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THE first moves were made in Helston on Tuesday night to create a community group to combat the dangers of flooding in the area.

There were no hard and fast plans to stop or solve any of the current flooding problems, however.

Instead the message was clear – climate change is happening, flooding will continue or get worse if unchecked and it is up to local communities to take action.

The public meeting at the Guildhall had been organised by the town council and the Environment Agency.

Helston Mayor Jonathan Radford-Gaby said he wanted to use the opportunity to kick-start the process to create a flood plan.

"As we all know, Helston has been prone to flooding over many years," he said.

"We have made attempts to put measures in place but we know the time has come to take matters more seriously." The meeting had also been thrown open to communities around Helston including Breage, Sithney, Porthleven.

Leading the meeting was Kevin Barnes, the Environment Agency's flood resilience team leader for Devon and Cornwall.

He pointed to the Boscastle floods ten years ago as a major incident in Cornwall itself.

"I just want to focus your minds that it can and does happen here," he said.

Hydrologist Professor Stephan Harrison, of the Penryn campus of University of Exeter, gave a crash course in climate change and how scientists monitor extreme weather and floods.

He said that although average rainfall per year had remained roughly the same in modern times, the intensity of rainfall in any particular storm had increased.

"Climate change is happening and we need to build up flood plans," he said.

"Flooding is predicted to become much more severe."

He added that it was hard to predict exactly when and where rain and flooding would happen. Cornwall Council's Martin Alvey, who leads the Cornwall Community Flood Forum, said he wanted towns and villages across the county to look to their own flood plans.

"Hopefully this will lead you to develop a community plan," he said. "What we are doing here in Cornwall is seen on the national stage as very innovative and trailblazing."

He said that although central government had given funding to create Cornwall's flood forum, there was no money at this stage for flood defences.

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