The Rt Hon Gordon Brown
The Prime Minister
10 Downing Street

A. citizen
100 Any Road
Typical Town


Date:   4th December 2007
 Dear Gordon Brown

RE: Environment Flood Map of Freshford & River Frome Somerset

 I have written directly to both the chief executive of the Environment Agency (Sir John Harman) and the director General of the Ordnance Survey Vanessa Lawrence about the error on the flood map for this area (in March 2006 and received letters from them directly. The matter that I wrote about is the error in the location of the former Peradin works at Freshford Mill which is located in Bath and North East Somerset and which is close to Wiltshire.

 The depiction of the Mill close to the junction of Crabtree lane and Mill Lane is incorrect and is therefore misleading. All older maps show the location of Freshford Mill correctly but the flood maps show the Mill as being outside the flood area.

 I can find no other explanation for this error other than corruption. Both Sir John Harman and Vanessa Lawrence acted promptly but the error still persists. Someone has drawn a building on the map where there has never been a building now or in the past.

 The persistence of this error on the environment agencies flood map will continue to mislead the public and is to the benefit of those developers who wish to develop the site for would be residents. The website has links to both the defective flood map and the map that is in error.

 Bearing in mind the damage that the UK has suffered due to floods this year I would ask the Prime Minister to ensure that the Environment Agency ensures that such errors in its flood maps be corrected and investigated as a matter of urgency.

Yours sincerely

A. Citizen

The Prime Minister wrote to me on the 14th December 2007 thanking me for writing to him about flooding. He had asked to send my letter to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), as he feels that it is important that they are aware of my concerns and can send any comments they they may have.

DEFRA passed the request from Gordon Brown to the Environment Agency for their observations. DEFRA wrote back to me on the 14th January and as can be shown by the letter below placed the problem back with the Ordnance Survey - as they supply the maps. Unfortunately, at present it is not clear whether the Prime Minister will take steps to ensure that similar errors are not in the UK Flood Map database, and it is certainly not clear why the Freshford Mill buildings were drawn in the wrong place. Some individual put pen to paper and actually drew Freshford Mill which is also the former Peradins factory in the wrong place.

CCU 7th Floor
Eastbury House
30-34 Albert Embankment


Email: Department for Environment


CCU Ref: DW061042
100 Any Road
Typical Townl

14 January 2008

Dear A. Citizen


Thank you for your letter of 12 December to Gordon Brown regarding an Environment Agency flood map. I have been asked to reply.

By way of background I should explain that Defra has overall policy responsibility for flood and coastal erosion risk management in England. However the Environment Agency is the principal operating authority with responsibility for flood risk management in England and exercises a general supervisory responsibility over all matters relating to flood risk management.

Therefore your letter was passed to the Environment Agency for their comment, and I enclose the briefing that we received in response. As noted by the Environment Agency, the Flood Map was designed to show Flood Zones rather than detailed maps. The Flood Map is not intended to be viewed on an individual property basis, a site specific flood risk assessment is used for development purposes.

The underlying mapping scales and labelling are the responsibility of Ordnance Survey, you will need to contact Ordnance Survey if you believe these contain errors.

Customer Service
Ordnance Survey Headquarters
Romsey Road
South Hampton
S016 4GU

If you are unhappy with their response, as a first course of action you would need to follow their complaints procedure.

Yours sincerely,

Sharon McGavin

Defra - Customer Contact Unit

This NOT a new issue a complaint about the error had already been made on the freshford Mill website To write that  'Flood Map is not intended to be viewed on an individual property basis' does not make any sense. The issue is that these flood maps are used by people all over the country to seek information about the risk to property from flooding by using a post code search if they so wish.  The post code does locate individual properties if they are large enough. In fact, the Environment Agency has stepped in to prevent a property company seeking to use the Flood Map data in a more user friendly way: Guardian technology article The argument being partly based on non payment of a license and partly based on maintaining the integrity of these maps, which in this particular case is suspect.

Furthermore, the Ordnance survey paper maps that anyone can buy do not show the mill in the wrong place and have never done so. Example: c. 1900 os map.  Are you suggesting that the Ordnance survey drew these flood maps or did they supply the digital mapping for some cartographic service to prepare the actual flood maps?

A letter from Anne Mcintosh the shadow Environment Minister about this matter is re-published below

 Miss Anne Mcintosh LL.B (Hons) MP

Member of Parliament for the Vale of York - Tel: 01845 523835 or 020 7219 3541 (House of Commons)



14th January 2008

Dear Citizen

Thank you very much for your email to David Cameron,(Leader of the Opposition at this time- Editor) regarding the Environment Agency flood map of Freshford and River Frome in Somerset. Thank you for highlighting the letter to the Prime Minister regarding the error on the Environment Agency map.

It is disappointing that the error has not been rectified, and so I have taken the opportunity to write to Barbara Young, the Chief Executive at the Environment Agency, and the Director General of Ordnance Survey to ask that they correct the error as soon as possible. I will be in touch as soon as I receive a response.

Yours sincerely

Miss Anne Mcintosh LLB MP

Member of Parliament for the Vale of York

Shadow Minister for Environment


  Due to Anne Mcintosh's efforts to resolve this issue some real progress has been made with this problem. Whilst restating that the mapping is within the specification for the OS 1:50,000 Vanessa Lawrence the CEO of the OS has decided to ask for a modification of the  mapping for Freshford Mill. I have seen the revised mapping and confirm that it will satisfactorily represent the Freshford Mill group of buildings when the Flood Maps are updated by the Environment Agency. for further information: