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Somerset Flooding Summit The Role of Riparian Owners Graham Clark CLA SW.

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Presentation on theme: "Somerset Flooding Summit The Role of Riparian Owners Graham Clark CLA SW."— Presentation transcript:

1 Somerset Flooding Summit The Role of Riparian Owners Graham Clark CLA SW

2 CLA & its involvement in flooding & water management Riparian landowners responsibilities & where they fit in water management Riparian landowners perspective on flood risk management & maintenance of watercourses Recommendations looking forward Scope of talk

3 National association for owners of rural land & businesses 34,000 members, responsible for half the rural land in England c.1,000 Somerset members, many riparian owners, many affected by 2012 floods Lobby government for better policies for a living & working countryside Represent members views locally & nationally with EA, Defra Ministers etc CLA & its role in flooding

4 Those owning land beside ditch, stream, river Rights To receive water in natural quantity & quality To protect property from flooding & erosion – subject to consents regime Responsibilities Let water flow through land without obstruction, pollution, diversion Keep banks, bed & structures clear of obstruction Notify EA/Local authority if building or altering structure which obstructs a watercourse Protect water quality, wildlife & habitat Role of Riparian Landowners

5 Most watercourses managed by landowner (subject to consents regime & powers of public authorities below:)  EA has powers to work on Main Rivers to manage flood risk – construct/maintain banks, dredging etc  C.Council/Drainage Board has powers to work on Ordinary Watercourses to manage flood risk  EA/CC/IDB can serve notice where landowner not maintained watercourse & flow is impeded or increasing flood risk Riparian owners pay annual levy to the IDB to help with management of watercourses & many sit on Drainage Boards Role of Riparian Landowners

6 Most accept responsibilities & keep ditches & watercourses clear They have a vested interest in doing so – agriculture relies on it Biggest frustration – rhynes cleared out but water still does not flow due to inadequate channel clearance in the main rivers downstream EA’s national budget for maintenance severely cut meaning less work can be done 2010/11 c.£100m 2013/14 c.£70m 2014/15 c.£60m Riparian Landowner’s perspective

7 A decreasing amount of work is being conducted on medium to low priority parts of the network and …… if they are never maintained these parts of the system may no longer function as intended. De-silting on rivers in the Somerset Levels having all but ceased, the Rivers Tone & Parrett are considered to be between a third and two thirds of their capacity, exacerbating the extent and duration of the current flooding. (Association of Drainage Authorities, EFRA Committee Evidence, Jan 2013) Riparian Landowner’s perspective

8 Agriculture on low lying areas like the Somerset Levels depends on effective management of water levels Most of the area’s environmental interest – SSSI’s, SAC, ESA/HLS agreements – depends on farming But farming may soon become unviable in parts of the Levels if steps not taken to more effectively manage water levels – dredging in main rivers has to be part of this Its not about ‘canalising’ all rivers – a balance needs to be struck between flood risk, environment & agriculture Looking forward

9 Agriculture underpins much of public benefit on the Levels – Treasury rules should recognise full value of farmland to society in EA cost/benefit calculations Need to streamline EA consenting regime to enable those riparian owners who are able, to effectively maintain watercourses Perhaps time to consider IDBs taking on maintenance of some stretches of main river IDBs could do work quicker & more cost effectively than EA & can ensure a consistent standard along a main river Perhaps IDBs should raise additional levies through District Councils to pay for work – householders benefit from reduced flood risk Looking forward

10 Graham Clark SW Regional Surveyor CLA Hartham Park Corsham Wiltshire SN13 0RP

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