Hastings Storm Relief tunnel and the park stream

Chris Hurrell made this Environmental Information Regulations request to Southern Water Services Limited
You only have a right in law to access information about the environment from this authority
Automatic anti-spam measures are in place for this older request. Please let us know if a further response is expected or if you are having trouble responding.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Southern Water Services Limited,

Following the two disastrous floods in Hastings town centre in January and again in October. Questions are being asked as to why the manhole covers on the culverted Priory Stream are blowing in South Terrace and flooding the Priory Meadow shopping centre.

The public are asking why the storm relief tunnel constructed in the 1990s is not preventing the large volumes of water from the park/priory stream entering the culvert and disgorging in the town centre

My understanding is that the storm relief tunnel was not designed to take surplus water from the park stream/priory stream and was only designed to take excess combined/foul water from the sewer system.

There is little available information available online.

Please respond under EIR:

1. Does the storm relief tunnel take surplus surface water run offs from the park/priory stream or is all that water taken via the culvert to the sea?

2. Please provide all information you hold on the storm relief tunnel

3. Please provide maps of the drainage network covering Hastings Town Centre and the lower part of Alexandra Park, including surface water sewers, foul and combined sewers, the culvert and the storm relief tunnel.

4. Please provide details of the manhole cover installed in South Terrace in 2019 which has now blown in January and October causing flooding of the shopping centre.

5. Please provide the flood risk impact assesment carried out prior to the installation of this manhole.

Yours faithfully,

Chris Hurrell

EIR - Environmental Information Regulations, Southern Water Services Limited

Dear Mr Hurrell

Thank you for your request. It will be dealt with under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

As required by the regulations, we aim to answer your request as soon as possible and within 20 working days from the date we received it. If for any reason we are unable to meet this deadline, we will keep you fully informed of the reasons for this.

Kind regards

EIR Officer

southernwater.co.uk

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EIR - Environmental Information Regulations, Southern Water Services Limited

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Hurrell

In response to your request, please see the attached letter.

Kind regards

EIR Officer

southernwater.co.uk

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Dear Southern Water Services Limited,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Southern Water Services Limited's handling of my EIR request 'Hastings Storm Relief tunnel and the park stream'.

I request a review of the responses given to the following points:

“2. Please provide all information you hold on the storm relief tunnel”

I requested all information held. This was a request for all documents(in any format) pertaining to the storm relief tunnel. You have misinterpreted this request and only provided a summary of the function of the storm relief tunnel (which is useful but not what I requested). Please provide copies of all information held as requested or provide exception reason(s) for why you are withholding such information.

“3. Please provide maps of the drainage network covering Hastings Town Centre and the lower part of Alexandra Park, including surface water sewers, foul and combined sewers, the culvert and the storm relief tunnel. “

EIR requires that you confirm that the data is held. You have not confirmed the requested maps are held. Instead you point to an external fee paying service and state that not all public sewers are shown. Please confirm whether the requested maps are held.

This refers to a fee paying site. The electronic versions of historic records require registration with an external company digdat and fees to be paid. This conflicts with your claim that “. In this case we have decided to waive our charge”.

EIR allows for information to be provided up to a threshold without charge. You have not explained how supply of maps has exceeded this charge threshold. Please provide maps in electronic format as requested. Information requested under EIR are only chargeable once a threshold has been reached. No evidence has been provided that such a threshold has been reached. The charges are prohibitive and therefore conflict with ICO guidance.

This is discriminatory against those who live far from Worthing and/or have accessibility issues.
Please supply the maps as requested electronically.

“4. Please provide details of the manhole cover installed in South Terrace in 2019 which has now blown in January and October causing flooding of the shopping centre. “

You state that “the asset is not owned by SW”. It is unclear what you refer to as the asset. It seems that you are saying the culvert is not an asset owned by SW. Please clarify whether the asset “not owned by SW” is the manhole or the culvert.

Please clarify who does own the asset and is responsible for it.

If it is not an SW asset then please explain why SW installed the manhole and subsequently filled it back in.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/h...

Yours faithfully,

Chris Hurrell

Churchill, Robin, Southern Water Services Limited

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Hurrell

Thank you for your email of 2 December below.

As you know, I am responsible for dealing with requests for Internal Reviews following a request made pursuant to the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

I shall consider your request below which has been made in relation to the response you received on 27 November 2023. The ICO guidance provides that responses to Internal Reviews may be possible within 20 working days, and no later than 40 working days. You will understand that it may not always be possible to respond to you within 20 working days, however, I hope to let you have a response by the 40 day deadline of 31 January 2024.

Regards.

Robin Churchill
Head of Legal

T. 01903 27 2500
M. 07341 735706
southernwater.co.uk

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Churchill, Robin, Southern Water Services Limited

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Hurrell.

 

RE REQUEST FOR AN INTERNAL REVIEW

 

I write further to your email of 2 December 2023 and my email of 21
December 2023 (below).

 

I am the Head of Legal Services at Southern Water and I deal with
requests  for Internal Reviews of requests made pursuant to the
Environmental  Information Regulations 2004.

 

I have treated  your email as a request for an Internal Review of the
decision made by  Southern Water dated 27 November 2023 following your
request made under the  Environmental Information Regulations 2004
received on 30 October 2023.

 

Background

 

In your original request you asked for the disclosure of the following :

 

Following the two disastrous floods in Hastings town centre in January and
again in October. Questions are being asked as to why the manhole covers
on the culverted Priory Stream are blowing in South Terrace and flooding
the Priory Meadow shopping centre. The public are asking why the storm
relief tunnel constructed in the 1990s is not preventing the large volumes
of water from the park/priory stream entering the culvert and disgorging
in the town centre.  My understanding is that the storm relief tunnel was
not designed to take surplus water from the park stream/priory stream and
was only designed to take excess combined/foul water from the sewer
system. There is little available information available online.

 

Please respond under EIR:

1. Does the storm relief tunnel take surplus surface water run offs from
the park/priory stream or is all that water taken via the culvert to the
sea?

2. Please provide all information you hold on the storm relief tunnel

3. Please provide maps of the drainage network covering Hastings Town
Centre and the lower part of Alexandra Park, including surface water
sewers, foul and combined sewers, the culvert and the

storm relief tunnel.

4. Please provide details of the manhole cover installed in South Terrace
in 2019 which has now blown in January and October causing flooding of the
shopping centre.

5. Please provide the flood risk impact assesment carried out prior to the
installation of this manhole.

 

In Southern Water’s response of 27 November 2023 you were advised as
follows –

 

We can confirm that Southern Water does hold information of the type you
have requested as follows:

 

1. Does the storm relief tunnel take surplus surface water run offs from
the park/priory stream or is all that water taken via the culvert to the
sea?

The storm relief tunnel is designed to take combined sewer flows from the
houses and roads in the surrounding area only. It does not take any runoff
from the Alexandra Park stream; it was never designed to do this. The
stream goes out to sea via the culvert only.

 

2. Please provide all information you hold on the storm relief tunnel

The Storm Tunnel was created as a holding system to store excess flows
before they enter Coombs Wastewater Pumping Station (WPS) during storm
conditions This act a bit like an egg timer in that the larger bore tunnel
(approximately 6.5m diameter) will store excess flows which then feed into
the WPS via a smaller (600mm) pipe. Once the rain stops then the WPS is
continually fed waste through the smaller pipe until it catches up.

 

3. Please provide maps of the drainage network covering Hastings Town
Centre and the lower part of Alexandra Park, including surface water
sewers, foul and combined sewers, the culvert and the storm relief tunnel.

For detailed maps of our assets including water mains, foul and surface
water sewers please visit our website:
https://www.southernwater.co.uk/property... Due
to recent changes in legislation, our maps may not always show all public
sewers. If available, we only hold records for public assets so any
private pipework will not be shown. You can also view our sewer and water
records for free at our office in Worthing. You can visit our office by
making an appointment between the hours of 09:00 and 17:00 Monday to
Friday.

To make an appointment please use the following link: Sewer and water maps
(southernwater.co.uk)

 

4. Please provide details of the manhole cover installed in South Terrace
in 2019 which has now blown in January and October causing flooding of the
shopping centre.

The manhole on South Terrace was installed as a cleaning point for the
twin culvert through South Terrace as we believed that this was a river
and not a sewer. It has now been established that this asset is not owned
by Southern Water. The manhole cover has since been removed and the
Southern Water, Southern House, Yeoman Road, Worthing BN13 3NX
southernwater.co.uk Southern Water Services Ltd, Registered Office:
Southern House, Yeoman Road, Worthing BN13 3NX Registered in England No.
2366670 chamber has been capped at the level of the culvert. Reinforcing
bars have also been drilled into the walls of the shaft and filled with
concrete to the tarmac level. This was then tarmacked over. This culvert
is not connected to the storm tunnel as it is river water but instead is
designed to go out to sea through the outfall at Denmark Place.

 

5. Please provide the flood risk impact assesment carried out prior to the
installation of this manhole.

Under the Regulations Southern Water does not have to provide you with a
copy of this information if one of the exceptions in the Regulations
applies. In this case Southern Water considers that the exception
Regulation 12(4)(a) of the EIR applies as we do not hold the information
you have requested. Therefore, we are unable to provide you with this
information.

 

Request for an Internal Review

In your email  of 23 November 2023 below you stated that –

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information
reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Southern Water Services
Limited's handling of my EIR request 'Hastings Storm Relief tunnel and the
park stream'.

I request a review of the responses given to the following points:

 

“2. Please provide all information you hold on the storm relief tunnel”

 

I requested all information held. This was a request for all documents(in
any format) pertaining to the storm relief tunnel. You have misinterpreted
this request and only provided a summary of the function of the storm
relief tunnel (which is useful but not what I requested). Please provide
copies of all information held as requested or provide exception reason(s)
for why you are withholding such information.

 

“3. Please provide maps of the drainage network covering Hastings Town
Centre and the lower part of Alexandra Park, including surface water
sewers, foul and combined sewers, the culvert and the storm relief tunnel.

 

EIR requires that you confirm that the data is held. You have not
confirmed the requested maps are held. Instead you point to an external
fee paying service and state that not all public sewers are shown. Please
confirm whether the requested maps are held.

 

This refers to a fee paying site. The electronic versions of historic
records require registration with an external company digdat and fees to
be paid. This conflicts with your claim that “. In this case we have
decided to waive our charge”.

 

EIR allows for information to be provided up to a threshold without
charge.  You have not explained how supply of maps has exceeded this
charge threshold. Please provide maps in electronic format as requested.
Information requested under EIR are only chargeable once a threshold has
been reached. No evidence has been provided that such a threshold has been
reached. The charges are prohibitive and therefore conflict with ICO
guidance.

 

This is discriminatory against those who live far from Worthing and/or
have accessibility issues.

Please supply the maps as requested electronically.

 

“4. Please provide details of the manhole cover installed in South Terrace
in 2019 which has now blown in January and October causing flooding of the
shopping centre. “

 

You state that “the asset is not owned by SW”. It is unclear what you
refer to as the asset. It seems that you are saying the culvert is not an
asset owned by SW. Please clarify whether the asset “not owned by SW” is
the manhole or the culvert.

 

Please clarify who does own the asset and is responsible for it.

 

If it is not an SW asset then please explain why SW installed the manhole
and subsequently filled it back in.

 

  

Internal Review

 

I have reviewed your original request, Southern Water’s response, and have
had regard to the regulations themselves, guidance from the Information 
Commissioners Office, Defra, and the correspondence between you and 
Southern Water.

 

It is important to understand that the Environmental Information
Regulations 2004 provide public access to environmental information held
by public authorities. The Regulations do this in two ways:

•            public authorities must make environmental information
available proactively;

•            members of the public are entitled to request environmental
information from public authorities.

The Regulations cover any recorded information held by public authorities
in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  ICO guidance states -

 

‘The Regulations do not cover information that is in someone’s head. If a
member of the public asks for information, you only have to provide
information you already have in recorded form. You do not have to create
new information or find out the answer to a question.’

 

So far as your request for an Internal Review is concerned, you require a
responses in respect of Questions 2, 3 and 4.

 

In relation to Question 2, the Hastings storm tunnel is 1619.42m long and
the diameter is 6.5m. The map below shows the location-

 

 

 

 

In response to Question 3, it is not clear from your email precisely what
issue or query you raise. The position in relation to Southern Waters
digitised mapping data was fully explained to you in my response dated
22nd November 2023 (EIR request number 2003) and also in my response to
you dated 25 October 2023 (EIR request number 2021).

 

To reiterate, Southern Water has referred you to the website location
where public access to digitised mapping records is to be found. Perhaps
you are under the impression that Southern Water holds a bank of maps
(perhaps in paper or pdf format) that can be accessed and provided as a
discrete item upon request, however, that is not the case. Such mapping
information is held in digital data form and is accessed either by viewing
the data at a designated access terminal and/or by seeking a ‘snapshot’ of
the content by way of a request made via the weblink that has been
provided to you. Such protections are necessary to avoid unauthorised
revisions being made to the digitised data.

 

In Southern Water’s previous responses to your questions, you were
provided with a link to the website where public access to the digital
mapping is to be made, and you are aware that there is also public access
to the digital mapping via a terminal in the Southern Water Durrington
Office which is free of charge to use. You have not stated that you are
not able to access the digital mapping in that way. 

 

You have had explanations as to how the Southern Water digitised mapping
data can be accessed by you. For the reasons explained in the previous
responses, it is simply not physically possible to ‘supply’ (i.e. attach)
maps as you suggest.  In the circumstances, I am satisfied that the
original response from Southern Water was correct and that it is able to
provide you with the information you seek by providing access to the
digitised data via the weblink and/or the visitor terminal which I am
satisfied is compliant with regulation 6 of EIR 2004 as regards “publicly
available” information.  The amount charged to receive a ‘snapshot’ of the
digitised mapping system by way of a maps via the weblink is reasonable
and compliant with EIR 2004. 

 

To assist you further, the investigation into the January 2023 flooding
event carried out by East Sussex County Council contains some maps that
you would find useful.
https://www.eastsussex.gov.uk/environmen...

 

For information, you may be aware that the Hastings Town Centre Flooding –
Multi Agency group (MP, ESCC, Hastings Borough Council, the Environment
Agency and Southern Water) has recently had an initial meeting to discuss
the multi agency approach to the town’s recurring flooding issues. 

 

In relation to Question 4, it appears that the information you were
supplied about the ownership/responsibility for the manhole in question
was not entirely correct. It was installed by Southern Water into the
culverted watercourse that was at that time owned by Hastings Borough
Council in April 2019. Southern Water subsequently adopted the culverted
watercourse in October 2021. Consequently at the time of the flood event
in October 2023 Southern Water was responsible for the manhole in
question.

 

 

In the circumstances, I am of the view that Southern Water has properly
dealt with your request pursuant to the EIR 20024 (save for the correction
to the answer to Question 4) and uphold the original decision.

 

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have 
the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office:

Information Commissioner's Office,

Wycliffe House, Water Lane,

Wilmslow, Cheshire

SK9 5AF

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Robin Churchill

Head of Legal

 

 

T. 01903 27 2500

M. 07341 735706

southernwater.co.uk

 

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