Management of rivers could go to communities

The Environment Agency has launched a consultation which considers proposals to transfer ‘flood risk management activities’ on a number of stretches of watercourses to local groups.

If agreed, internal drainage boards (IDBs), lead local flood authorities (LLFAs) and district councils will have more responsibility for their local flood risk.

Among the proposals is the potential to re-designate several sections of selected main rivers as ordinary watercourses in Suffolk, South Forty Foot Catchment in Lincolnshire and Stour Marshes in Kent.

Any change of responsibility will only happen where the watercourses have a low level of flood risk, are not associated with major rivers or major city centres and where the local community supports the change.

Rachael Hill, flood and coastal risk manager for the Environment Agency, said: “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.”

Innes Thomson, chief executive of the Association of Drainage Authorities, added: “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. It is very important for existing and potential new river managers to know what the views of local people are so we can make the right decisions together for the best future of these rivers.”