Minutes of the Management Sub-Committee of the Parrett Drainage Board held on

Tuesday 07 October 2014 at 1 Church Street, Highbridge, Somerset TA9 3AE at 14.15pm

Chairman: P Maltby

 Attendance and Apologies: as register appended; R Coombes, C Passmore & M Young

  • Items additional to the agenda: (1) P Brewin (PAB) Impact of Water Level Management on Flood Risk.
  • (2) P Maltby (PCM) communication with ratepayers re: winter pen levels and dates.
  • (3) Cllr J Taylor situation of ditch maintenance throughout the catchment.

Declarations of interest: PCM – non pecuniary interest in any discussion regarding solar farms

  • Minutes of joint E&M and Management Sub-Committee meeting 22 April 2014: (appended) having been previously circulated the minutes, as signed by the E&M Chairman on 23 September 2014, were signed by the Management Sub-Committee Chairman as true and correct record of the meeting held. All in favour.
  • Matters arising: (1) Item 5 Minehead investigations: I Sturdy (IDS) advised that no response has been received from West Somerset District Council relating to providing services to undertake works on attenuation ponds and rhynes. The IDB is working with the local authority to provide an understanding of riparian responsibilities.
  • (2) Item 5 Butlins (Bourne Leisure): members were advised that a contractor had been employed by Bourne Leisure to undertake works to clear the moat at Butlins, who have received advice from P Ham (PSH) for works to be completed as soon as possible.
  • Bourne Leisure had requested the IDB to discharge conditions in the Planning Consent however the general statements offered in the method statement were not considered sufficiently detailed to allow discharge.
  • (3) Item 12 Flood Warning Techniques: N Stevens (NWS) advised that a meeting has been scheduled with the Environment Agency (the Agency) at which he would expect to receive a briefing of the techniques employed for flood forecasting and warning.

(4) Item 15 Notice:  members were advised that following receipt of an enforcement notice, Mr Quick has almost completed the requested works. This situation will continue to be monitored.

(5) Item 18 Slabgate Sluice: NWS advised that the Board is undertaking a prosecution for non-authorised operation of a structure. One defendant has pleaded guilty whilst another another has pleaded not guilty. A trial has been fixed for Taunton Magistrate’s Court on 1st December 2014; the Clerk and Assistant Clerk are currently assisting in the gathering of necessary evidence and statements.

  • Notes of an Extra-Ordinary Briefing of the Management Committee held on 29 April 2014: (appended) members duly noted the report previously circulated.
  • Minutes of an Emergency Meeting of the Management Committee held on 14 August 2014: (appended) having been previously circulated the minutes were signed by the Chairman as a true and correct record of the meeting held. All in favour.
  • Matters arising:

Item 2 Commuted sums re North East Bridgwater: IDS advised that discussion with Hallam Land Management (HLM) is underway as per the minutes, with an annual maintenance charge of £20k – £25k, which includes a contribution to future capital works.

Item 3 rechargeable works: PSH advised that there is a mechanism in place to recharge the costs when landowners wish to hire the Board’s maintenance plant for private ditch maintenance work. This could be particularly useful to landowners/occupiers in receipt of Higher Level Stewardship Scheme funding (HLS) to undertake works. Natural England (NE) undertake inspection of land under Stewardship Agreement in conjunction with the RPA, however, members were advised that NE are currently experiencing staff shortages.

  • Finance: overview of expenditure and budget: S Gee (SMG) advised that the Board expenditure is on profile.
  • Drainage rates: rates outstanding on the current year are £11,386; £16k was outstanding at this time in 2013. Members were advised that 62 summons notices had been served with 24 Liability Orders prepared to be heard at Taunton Magistrate’s Court on 13 October 2014.
  • Rating System: members were advised that an order had been placed for a new rating system, (DRS) which will reduce administration time in completing land changes and processing rate payments. Ratepayers will be encouraged to pay by direct debit once the new system is installed. It was agreed that an interim newsletter should be produced to include this information.
  • The Chairman was asked if the Board could charge interest on late payments; the meeting was advised that it is not within the power of the Board to charge interest on rate payments.
  • Engineering Report: (1) (appended) PSH gave a brief overview of the maintenance report previously circulated, which was duly noted by members. PSH was asked to investigate the possibility of contractors undertaking maintenance contracts earlier in the year.
  • PSH advised by a member that Defra guidance has amended hedgerow cutting in 2015 from 1st August to 1st September; the Chairman was asked if the guidance is set only for recipients of single farm payments, the Clerk was instructed to investigate.
  • (2) Parrett and Tone Dredging: members were advised that the dredging project is due to conclude in December 2014, and has encountered no disputes during the project. Observations of the dredge (this list is not exhaustive):
  • Silt returning in some areas
  • Quantity of silt removed is less than estimated in some areas
  • No indication of budget for completed project
  • Future dredging discussed with operators
  • Future maintenance works not yet agreed
  • Future funding for necessary maintenance identified as a need within the Flood Action Plan
  • Future maintenance work might be more cost effective by silt agitation.
  • Flow gauging will be undertaken on the improved channel; the results will be useful for the modelling for further sites
  • Proposed sites: Parrett – upstream of Burrowbridge, River Brue and Parrett downstream of Northmoor to Huntworth
  • Hookbridge to Ham: Investigation work by the Agency suggests that dredging this length will result in a drop in peak water levels
  • (3) Improvement works and Favourable Conditions projects: IDS advised that Favourable Conditions projects (FC) are in the last year of work, with N Collins supervising the works being undertaken by J Porter, and that works are within the approved funding.
  • Westmoor: this project has not been undertaken; it was agreed that IDS should re-investigate.
  • Lakewall Flap: NWS advised that complaints had been received for lack of maintenance on the Penzoy and IDB systems in this area, weedcutting was undertaken by the Agency however the Board’s winter cut was not undertaken due to flooding.
  • Members discussed the future necessity of having a flap at Lakewall and the water management system upstream and downstream of Lakewall. It was agreed that the Clerk would provide a paper for consideration at the next scheduled full board meeting.
  • (4) Roadside ditches: Members were advised that Somerset County Council (SCC) have requested that the Board undertake some roadside maintenance work at Cheat Corner, Ruishton. SCC is also proposing to undertake improvement works to the Ruishton ring bank surface water pumping station on Cheats Road. The Board is aware that roadside ditches are important to surface water drainage. It was stated this may be an area of work for the SRA to consider as the Board’s maintenance budgets are under considerable pressure.
  • (5) The impact of water level management on flood risk: (appended) P Brewin provided an overview of the paper circulated to members. A full discussion was held on the abridged report, with members being advised that the full report is available for perusal upon request. Concern was expressed about the public conception of water levels around flood events, however it was stated that raised water levels systems are generally isolated from the IDB area in the majority of the districts. It was agreed that the interim newsletter would have the following information included:
  • All in-viewed watercourses, outside of RWL schemes, to be at Summer Penn level on 1st April and Winter penn level at 1st December

 

  • T Bradford proposed, B Rowe seconded ‘that recommendation be given to the Full Board at its scheduled meeting of 25 November 2014 to set all in-view watercourses outside of Raised Water Level schemes to summer and winter penn levels on 1st April and 1st December respectively with the dates to be flexible in consideration of weather conditions.’ All in favour. RESOLUTION 1
  • (6) Ditches: Cllr Taylor declared a personal interest in this matter. PSH advised that in previous years the Board had 3 operators/machines, however following the reduction of staff hours and sale of a machine the Board now has 2 operators/machines undertaking increased maintenance as well as additional works where necessary. Additional works are re-charged to the appropriate landowner/occupier upon receipt of operator timesheets. At the recent Employment and Machinery meeting consideration was given to providing a duplicate ‘invoice’ book for recording additional works to include the signature of the landowner/occupier for re-charging purposes. It was agreed that PSH and SMG would investigate re-charging works by in-house staff, and for PSH to review the in-house programme of works.
  • Development Control: (appended) IDS advised that consideration and advice is being given to National Grid/Hinkley C applications.
  • Variation to Viewed Rhyne Network: members were advised that there are no variations to consider at this time.

20 year flood action plan progress and Somerset Rivers Board: NWS advised that the title Somerset Rivers Board has now been amended to Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) to prevent possible confusion with the Somerset Drainage Boards.

The current proposals which remain subject to further change and agreement will be scrutinised by a Leader Working Group on Monday 13 October  There are two principles that are key interest to the Boards:

(1) The SRA should not diminish the responsibilities of the individual partners nor those of riparian owners as well as the existing flood risk management authorities (FRMAs) including IDBs.

(2) Existing funding streams, responsibilities and accountabilities would continue as existing.

The SRA has the accountability for ensuring that all of the FRMA work is undertaken in a coordinated way and that opportunities would be taken for joint delivery where agreed.

The SRA will operate across the whole of Somerset and will not be confined to the Parrett & Tone and Axe Brue and the streams flowing into the Bristol Channel.

The Police & Crime Commissioner has called a meeting at the beginning of November to reassure members of the public that the emergency services are fully prepared for any flooding events this winter. District Councils are also planning to hold a series of meetings with communities around Somerset. It is expected the SRA would be discussed at those meetings.

IDS advised that the Board has been asked to provide an estimate for the Shadow SRA first year spend; this has been estimated at £3.0m, to include maintenance and operations identified by the Agency and IDB’s.

The Environment Secretary, L Truss, will be asked if a new precepting authority (the SRA) can be set up for April 2016, interim funding would be required from central government until that time.

Trigger Points Initiative: NWS advised that ten draft documents are available that summarise management/operation of water levels during a flood event i.e. operation of a structure or use of pumps. The documents will be made available in the near future, possibly at the community meetings in November.

Bradbury House update: NWS advised that the refurbishment project is nearing completion and that there is approximately four weeks to completion, at which time carpet fitting and telephone/computer services will be installed, for re-location in December.

Meetings Calendar 2015/16: (appended) C-A Porter advised that proposed meeting dates had been designed in correlation with Sedgemoor DC and Mendip DC meeting calendars as well as consideration to agricultural shows where possible.

Special Correspondence and meetings: (1) NWS advised that the IDB has been requested to attend SDC scrutiny meeting on 20 October to answer questions on how water level and penning levels are set, operated and consulted on.

(2) SUDS Approval Body: There is a consultation on the implementation on SUDs approval bodies (SABs); DCLG would like to implement SUDs via the planning authority rather than the Lead Flood Risk Authorities. The key issue would be that whoever is operating SUDS facilities has the resources to maintain the infrastructure and the regulations to control it satisfactorily.

Any Other Business: (1) Allermoor Spillway: a peer review requested on a report undertaken by Black & Veatch, has been completed by the Agency, which states that the report by B&V was accurate, however the Clerk was expecting a report of the initial work rather than on the flood.

(2) Ratepayer email contact: the Chairman requested that Expenditors/Board members encourage ratepayers to provide an email address to build a rate payers distribution list. It was agreed that this would be included on the interim newsletter, however little response has been received from previous newsletters.

  • Dates of next meetings: SDBC AGM 21 October 2014, 7pm Petherton Suite, Junction 24

Full Board 25 November 2014, 2.15pm Westonzoyland

Management 06 January 2015, 2.15pm, in-houseThere being no other business the Chairman thanked members and officers for attending and

closed the meeting at 17.40pm