Hosted by Peter Pawsey, Executive Chair at the LEP, the visit included a flooding ‘round table’ at the Hive. David Throup, from the Environment Agency, highlighted the main issues affecting Worcestershire as a result of it being the thoroughfare for major river networks.
John Hobbs, Director of Business, Environment and Community at Worcestershire County Council, highlighted the practical measures that had been taken earlier this year to keep key road networks open during a period of excessive rain and exceptionally high river levels. Worcester was the main focus of the discussions, in particular the extensive efforts to keep the river bridge accessible, thereby enabling the city to stay ‘open for business’.
The visit culminated in a tour of the innovative anaerobic digester plant at Evesham Vale Growers in Fladbury. General Manager, Matt Powell, showed the entourage how green waste from its tomato growing greenhouse is converted into energy for use in the firm’s own operations and for sale back to the National Grid.
Mr French said: “I was delighted to tour this state-of-the-art facility. What the Vale of Evesham demonstrates is the interconnectivity between meeting societal needs such as food production whilst helping to meet the demand for low-carbon energy supply. This also highlights the need to retain engineering skills in our workforce and the need for engineers to continue to find solutions to the problems of energy production faced by our society.
“It was fascinating to hear Dave Throup’s expert knowledge and as we clearly saw during events at the start of the year, the impacts of flooding are far reaching – it afflicts communities, businesses and sadly takes lives. It also leads to the failure of critical infrastructure networks such as power and transport, further restricting access to basic services when they’re needed most. Unfortunately we will continue to face these consequences across the UK unless we improve our resilience; adopting a wider range of flood management measures.”
Peter Pawsey added: “The President’s visit to the county was a great opportunity to showcase two interesting Worcestershire developments: the Hive and the Anaerobic Digester Plant at Fladbury. In addition, we held a very useful and informative discussion around the civil engineering challenges presented by flood events. All the pundits are predicting that we will as a nation experience more flash flooding. Worcestershire needs to be ready to deal with this challenge, hence the inclusion of requests for funding for several flood alleviation schemes in our Strategic Economic Plan.”