Agenda item

Strategic Flood Alleviation Schemes and Overview of Somerset Rivers Authoriy (SRA) and Flood and Coastal Protection Board (F&CPB)

This matter is the responsibility of Executive Portfolio Holder for Climate Change, Cllr Dixie Darch. 


Report Author:  Jonathan Stevens, Assistant Director Climate Change Regulatory Services and Asset Management  



This report was introduced by Executive Portfolio Holder for Climate Change, Cllr Dixie Darch and presented by Jonathan Stevens, Assistant Director Climate Change Regulatory Services and Asset Management. 


Councillors had reviewed the report and made the following comments: - 

·        Gwil Wren – Written Answer – Can an update be provided on the current flood management schemes that are going on in the Milverton area? 

·        Janet Lloyd – Written Answer – Can an update be provided on the current flood management schemes that are going on in the Pinksmoor Area, because during times of heavy rain there is still a lot of surface water in the lanes which is slow to drain away. 

·        The point was made that the purpose of the report was to highlight flood risk management NOT to prevent flooding. All measures being implemented were the steps that were being taken to control water, but this might not necessarily be enough to stop areas being flooded. The EA and SRA would also be concentrating on high-risk areas where homes and livelihoods were vulnerable and mitigating against this. It may mean that areas of the highway were left to slowly drain away, so that other areas could be dealt with first. 

·        Cllr Mansell was pleased that the content of the report especially in natural flood management. It was asked whether these schemes were being monitored to evaluate their effectiveness? A lot of evidence-based work is being undertaken by both the Environment Agency (EA) and Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) to evaluate the natural environment and habitats because of the work in this area.  

·        The SRA benefits from bringing a whole variety of stakeholders to the table with various diverse views. They only invest in projects that are evidence based and can provide value for money.Some areas such as Sampford Brett in West Somerset have benefitted from being members of the SRA, even though they have very little capital/budget to spend on flood alleviation schemes themselves. 

·        Cllr Aldridge stressed that it was important that flood management work is not undertaken in isolation and that the agencies concerned respond to strategic planning enquiries and other matters relating to local infrastructure. It is vitally important that development land especially is managed properly to ensure that houses are not built on flood plains and store up problems for the future. It is likely that this problem will be alleviated in the future when the unitary council will ensure more joined up working, especially between planning, infrastructure, and highways management. (The majority of the drainage issues currently come under the Highways responsibility). 

·        Jonathan Stevens is currently the workstream lead for this area of the LGR programme, so the various concerns will be noted and considered. 

·        Currently the SRA precept via the Council Tax, and this is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. The new Somerset Council will be the hosting authority for collection of the Council Tax going forward and they need to vote to confirm their acceptance of this. There has been a proposal for the SRA to become a precepting body, but this has not yet been agreed by central government. 

·        Concern was expressed by Brenda Weston about the destruction of trees and habitats along the canal path between Firepool and Obridge. Could residents be updated on the plans as there was concern that the flora and fauna would be adversely affected. Woodland management and thinning would be happening, but it would only remove some of the trees along the canal bank, and not at a time when wildlife would be nesting. The work would not extend as far as the Children’s wood which was not part of this scheme. 

·        Cllr Farbahi asked if the current budget of 15million was enough to deliver the schemes that were prioritised and was there any additional Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) money that could be drawn down? All projects are on track and CIL receipts are already in hand and must be spent on flood management where applicable as defined by the EA. The short-term projects are being delivered, whilst the longer-term priorities are being worked on for the future. This may mean that additional funding will need to be secured from other providers.  

·        Short term spending is categorised as any financial project under 10years duration. 


The Chair summed up the report by saying that it was clear that a lot of people were working very hard to address the flood management issues, and she herself had seen signs of improvement since 2013, in her wardareas of Henlade and Ruishton.  


The committee noted the report. 

(Prop: Buller / unanimous) 


Supporting documents: