Council urged to take 'decisive stance' on climate after Matlock floods

A major part of Derbyshire Dales District Council’s response to the climate emergency is prompting concern among residents who say it does not do enough to protect homes and businesses from extreme weather events.

Thursday, 18th March 2021, 8:49 am
The climate crisis is likely to bring more extreme weather events to the Derbyshire Dales, so how should the local council plan ahead?

Repeated flooding of Matlock town centre and democratic pressures have forced climate considerations up the council agenda since 2019 and the authority recently opened a public consultation on a supplementary planning document (SPD) for new building control guidance.

It outlines key areas for managing risks and supporting the transition to a low carbon society, including green infrastructure, water, energy, transport and building design

But some residents fear that, in its current form, the draft SPD would fail to bring developers in line with scientific reality.

NHS worker, Sharon Briddon, 50, said: “There are not enough strong statements to say that future building will not be in areas prone to flooding. There is a lot of ‘should, could and would’. Unless the council takes a strong and decisive stance now, it leaves the policies open to interpretation.”

The matter is personal for Sharon, who lives on High Ridge, next to the Wolds, a greenfield site north of the town earmarked for 430 new homes in the Derbyshire Dales Local Plan.

Residents in the area hope the SPD will help to avert that prospect, by forcing the council to factor in any increased flood risk before granting final planning approval.

Sharon said: “Our garden is unusable because it’s so waterlogged. The fields already look like ponds. Once you build on it, the land won’t soak up any water. It will all go downhill.

“We’ve been told that Matlock has been hit by once-a-century rainfall several times in recent years. It’s only going to get worse. Businesses have already been hit and seen insurance costs rise. Eventually they will just leave.”

Steve Martin, an environmental policy consultant living on Old Hackney Road, said: “Flooding could be terminal for Matlock but it’s just as concerning that the SPD does not demand housing for the 21st century in terms of efficiency, renewable energy and summer temperatures. The council has an ambitious target of net zero emissions by 2030. That must be met with ambitious plans.”

The consultation closes on March 26. See https://bit.ly/3ljibA4.