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Environment Agency launches consultation to give community more say in how rivers are managed

3 July 2018

Residents in the Isle of Axholme are being invited to have their say on how selected local rivers are managed and maintained following the launch of a public consultation on 25 June. 

The consultation, which will run for four weeks up until 23 July, outlines proposals by the Environment Agency to transfer ‘flood risk management activities’ on the Snow Sewer watercourse to the Isle of Axholme and North Nottinghamshire Water Level Management Board.

It follows on from a number of public drop-in sessions held throughout the area in October 2017 where the local community were invited to find out more about the proposals. The sessions, which aimed to encourage residents and landowners to share their thoughts on the plans, were well received with community feedback helping to shape the consultation proposals.

Prior to the launch of the public consultation, the Environment Agency has been working closely with local partners including Natural England, RSPB, North Lincolnshire Council, and NFU to explore options for local watercourse maintenance and to determine whether a transfer of the proposed watercourses is the right option for the community.

Should this transfer take place, it would allow the Snow Sewer to be re-designated from what is currently known as a ‘main river’ to an ‘ordinary watercourse’ – a change referred to as ‘de-maining’. This in turn would give the Isle of Axholme and North Nottinghamshire Water Level Management Board more responsibility for their local flood risk, where appropriate – by carrying out activities such as maintenance or giving permission to carry out works.

However, according to the Environment Agency, this will only happen where the watercourses have a low level of flood risk, are not associated with major rivers or major city centres and most importantly, where the local community supports the change.

Rachael Hill, Flood and Coastal Risk Manager for the Environment Agency, said: “it is important that people in the Isle of Axholme have their say. The project aims to bring more choice to communities and local organisations in how watercourses are managed and maintained. We want to strengthen local flood risk management and decision-making by ensuring the right people are managing the right watercourses.

“We want to hear from anyone who is affected by, or interested in, the proposals. This consultation explains how the proposed sections of watercourse are currently managed and funded and provides details on future management and funding if de-maining goes ahead."

The new proposals currently being consulted on in the Isle of Axholme form part of a national project across England with residents in Suffolk, Lincolnshire and Kent showing overall support, via public consultation, for more localised decision-making around flood risk management in their communities.

Innes Thomson, Chief Executive of ADA (Association of Drainage Authorities) said: "We consulted earlier in the year on proposals in Suffolk, Lincolnshire and Kent, and this is a further proposal as part of the de-maining pilot project.

“Despite their low flood risk to people and homes, the good management of these rivers still plays a major part in peoples’ lives, and the environmental and economic wellbeing of the communities through which they flow.

"This period of public consultation is an important opportunity for local communities and people to express their views so that river managers can make the right decisions together for the best future of these rivers.”

Residents will be able to view and give feedback on the proposals between midday 25 June 2018 and midday 23 July 2018 by accessing the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/rationalising-the-main-river-network-de-maining-proposals

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NOTES TO EDITORS:

An Internal Drainage Board (IDB) is an independent public body responsible for water level management in low-lying areas. They also play an important role in the areas they cover (approximately 10% of England at present), working in partnership with other authorities, such as the Environment Agency and Lead Local Flood Authorities (such as County Councils), to actively manage and reduce the risk of flooding.

County Councils provide leadership and strategic co-ordination across all sources of local flood risk and establish local flood risk management strategies. They also manage the risk of flooding from surface water, groundwater and ordinary watercourses (i.e. watercourses which are not designated as main rivers).