The Commissioners have taken the decision to replace their St Germans pumping station, the estimated cost of the new station being £38 million. Defra grant aid at 45% has been secured and further contributions, totalling approximately £7 million, will be forthcoming from the Environment Agency, through their highland water grants system. The remaining proportion, some £14 million, will however have to be found locally.
Because of the cost and nature of these works, the Commissioners have decided to take out an Annuity type loan, with the Public Works Loans Board, over the longest allowable period, 30 years. Once available balances have been taken into account, a loan of approximately £13 million is likely to be required. This, at present interest rates, represents a rate (and special levy equivalent) of 8p.
At present however, the estimates are those of the Commissioners consultants and firm tender prices will not be known until much later in this year. Bearing this in mind, the Commissioners have decided at this stage, to take out a loan of £7 million and to review the position again at this time next year, when the tender prices are in, and a clearer idea of actual requirements will be known.
Because of the time at which the £7 million loan would be taken out, and because it would be so done in two instalments, it is envisaged that, as a maximum, repayments on £5 million of that will need to begin in 2005/6. This repayment equates to 3p on the rate.
The Commissioners have therefore had no alternative but to raise their rates by 3p this year, which rise represents purely costs associated with the new station. The Commissioners recognise the impact that this will have on ratepayers but, as I am sure that you will appreciate, the safety and security from flooding of this area is dependent on the St Germans installation and ratepayers have the right to expect that this safety and security will be continued. The Commissioners are determined to ensure that, so far as possible, this area remains properly defended from flooding to a high return period and that the Middle Level area is, as far as can be, protected from the problems and misery which have arisen elsewhere due to flood events.
It would also only be right for me to draw to your attention that further additional works, bank raising and flow attenuation will also be required as part of the necessary improvements. Their cost will however be small in comparison with the new station and has still to be more precisely determined.
The need for this overall improvement scheme does emphasise once again that this area is potentially at flood risk and that its continued well being and indeed existence in its present form does totally depend on artificial flood defence/water management measures and I hope that you will appreciate from the above how seriously the Commissioners take their responsibility.
Clerk and Chief Executive