The Boards are establishing programmes of improvement works to watercourses and structures that they own or have adopted. This programme is being developed within a framework of national, regional, catchment and local water management plans that are the result of European and National initiatives to meet flood risk and environmental regulations and targets.
The following list of strategic plans has been identified as having important impacts on the work and prioritisation of the Boards improvement programme.
- National Flood Risk Management Strategy
- River Basin Management Plans
- Catchment Flood Management Plans
- Local Flood Risk Strategy
- Local Water Level Management Plans
- Local Development Frameworks
Many of these plans have measures set out within the Government’s national objections that are leading to the provision of grant aid funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Other government initiatives, from documents such as the Pitt Review, will also lead to the development of further strategies.
As a first stage in the development of the Boards’ Programmes, asset surveys are being undertaken to identify watercourses and structures that exist within the Board’s statutory areas and have a direct influence on the management of water.
The Pitt Review and other public inquiries have identified the problems that result from a fragmented approach to flood risk and water level management caused by the number and variety of organisations involved. The Boards as statutory public bodies have a duty under the Land Drainage Act to undertake a general supervision relating to the drainage of land in its area. The Consortium Boards are working locally with the development of surface water management plans in the urban areas that compliment the existing rural water level management plans.
The Boards’ programmes currently identify five main areas of work.
- A collaborative approach to the production of Surface Water Management Plans
- Investigation of urban drainage networks and their standards of service.
- The promotion of projects to achieve Environmentally Favourable Conditions in priority SSSIs.
- The refurbishment of existing water level control structures.
- The promotion of strategic drainage solutions to facilitate development.
Funding for the improvements programmes are financed by rates and levies raised as well as grant aid from Defra provided through the Environment Agency. Defra is currently providing 100% grant aid funding for the Favourable Conditions projects. Whilst other grants fall within the remit of the new Resilience Partnership funding that aims to broaden the number of schemes that could be brought forward. The Boards aim to align their programmes to maximize grant aid funding whilst government funding in these areas remains at a high level.