One of the UK’s most prominent Green Party politicians is using a biodegradable alternative sandbag to protect homes and businesses in the area he represents.
Huddersfield-based Clr Andrew Cooper has stood for deputy leadership of the Green Party and is the Green Party’s regional campaigns co-ordinator for Yorkshire.
He sits on Kirklees Metropolitan Council which covers the Huddersfield and Dewsbury areas in West Yorkshire and discovered FloodSax alternative sandbags when he had trouble getting traditional sandbags for homes and businesses at risk of flooding in the ward he represents.
He added: “During the bad weather in February I tried to get some sandbags from Kirklees Highways but everything was so hectic they said to let them know when flooding was imminent but that would have been too late.”
In the worst incident during the deluge a pub in his ward, the Star, was badly flooded when water poured into it from a nearby overflowing river after drains – some of them silted up – simply couldn’t cope. It was so bad the cellars totally flooded ruining all the stock and the pub’s wooden floor has been left badly damaged.
Landlady Sam Watt says the cost for repairs will be horrendous and the flood has had a deep impact on her life.
“I dread to think how much we have lost and how much all this will cost to repair,” said Sam. “Some days I just cry. I keep having nightmares – I can hear and see the water.”
Clr Cooper did some research on sandbag alternatives in the UK and discovered the award-winning ‘sandless’ sandbag called FloodSax devised and made by Environmental Defence Systems Ltd.
Clr Cooper said: “I actually didn’t realise Environmental Defence Systems is based in Huddersfield so is right on my doorstep.”
After hearing about the problems in Clr Cooper’s ward, EDS donated packs of FloodSax to help him.
He said: “It means we can get them distributed quickly to people who need them most in an emergency.”
FloodSax resemble pillowcases in their dry state but once immersed in water absorb up to 20 litres to become instant sandbags - but without the sand. They cause far less mess than sandbags, are largely biodegradable and almost 3 million have been sold worldwide.
Unlike sandbags, they are multi-functional as in their dry state they are flat with a large surface area so can be used to absorb leaks, drips, spills and floods indoors, especially in hard-to-reach places such as underneath sinks and pipes and beneath floorboards.
After testing them for himself Clr Cooper will also push for the council to buy them as a viable alternative to traditional sandbags which are difficult to store, time-consuming and hard to transport anywhere and the sand spills everywhere, harming the environment.
Many people don’t realise that councils have no obligation to provide sandbags so many local authorities now urge home and business owners to organise their own flood protection.
Gosport Borough Council in Hampshire says: “The council has evaluated the FloodSax product and has purchased a stock of Floodsax to help protect its own property and to deal with general flooding emergencies in the borough. FloodSax have many advantages over traditional sandbags, being easy to store and move, easy to use and, importantly, easy on the environment, having a significantly lower carbon footprint.”
Braintree District Council in Essex adds: “The council does not have a statutory duty to provide residents with sandbags during a flooding incident. It is the homeowner’s or landlord’s responsibility to protect their property. Flood defence products, e.g. FloodSax or similar products can be purchased at builders’ merchants or DIY stores.”
Adur and Worthing Councils in West Sussex say: “The Environment Agency now says that anti-flood devices like FloodSax are the way forward for people to protect their home.”
To find out more about FloodSax go to http://www.floodsax.co.uk/