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Paper 8 - 23 March 2001

ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES

23 March 2001

FLOODING: PROPOSED SEMINAR AND REPORT-BACK FROM THE SOUTHERN AREA ENVIRONMENT GROUP

Report by the Policy Manager

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RECOMMENDATIONS

(1) That the proposal for a seminar to consider the issues associated with flooding be approved; and

(2) That Councillor Brenda Smith be thanked for her report-back.

________________________________________________________________________

SEMINAR ON 17 APRIL

1. Hampshire County Council’s Planning and Transportation Committee considered a report at their January meeting (Annex 1). The Association is asked to give its support to a joint seminar to explore the many issues and concerns raised.

2. The seminar has been arranged for the morning of 17 April, to take place at The Castle, Winchester. Consideration has been given to concerns about timing (in view of foot and mouth etc.) but the County Council has decided to press ahead with the date for the moment given the urgent concerns raised and the fact that speakers have been lined up for 17 April.

3. District Councils and Unitary Authorities are invited to send two representatives to the seminar. HAPTC is also invited as are others concerned. Details can be obtained from Mike Long or Jane Walters at Hampshire County Council (tel: 01962 846828 or email  jane.walters@hants.gov.uk.

SOUTHERN AREA ENVIRONMENT GROUP

4. Councillor Brenda Smith of New Forest District Council represents the districts on the Regional Environmental Protection Advisory Committee. This body advises the southern region of the Environment Agency. She has supplied a report-back from a recent meeting of the Southern Area Environment Group, a local authority/Environment Agency liaison group. This is supplied at annex 2, and provides an interesting insight into her work on the local authorities’ behalf.

NICK GOULDER
Policy Manager

Date: 6 March 2001
Annexes: 2
Contact: Nick Goulder - 023 8068 8431, E-mail hiowlang@hants.gov.uk

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ANNEX 2

REPORT-BACK FROM THE SOUTHERN AREA ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP

Report by Councillor Brenda Smith, New Forest District Council (the District Council representative on the Regional Environmental Protection Advisory Group)

AWARENESS

1. At the Hampshire Area Environmental Group on 1 February, concerns were expressed in relation to the Environment Agency’s role in controlling developments in flood plains. We suggested that maybe Local Authority officers understand very well the need for such constraints but that elected members might benefit from further information and training. The exercise may be easier following the recent exceptionally wet autumn and winter. Officers from the Environment Agency are very willing to assist with such training, and to come and talk with our local authorities.

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF FLOODING

2. The River Test remains at high risk of flooding. A full Environment Agency report is awaited covering the period 15 September to 15 November and to date 450 members of the Agency’s staff across the region (Hampshire, East and West Sussex and Kent) have been involved in dealing with the high rainfall and its consequences. That is about 50% of their total staff. 180,000 phone calls were made by the Agency to those at risk, there have been about half a million calls to the Agency’s Floodline.

3. September, October, November and December saw about double the long term average rainfall. January may have seemed dry, but in fact an average rainfall was recorded.

4. None of the Agency’s flood defences have failed and the scheme at Milford-on-Sea worked very well. The worst flooding occurred on the Isle of Wight. In respect of non-main river flooding, the Agency can advise landowners, highway authorities etc. on works that may be needed.

5. There is a video entitled "Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems", which might provide members with a useful perspective on the consequences of building development. Copies are available from the Environment Agency, although I believe they were intending to despatch one to each authority in the County.

IMPACT OF FLOODING ON WILDLIFE

6. Sadly there have been six to eight otter deaths attributed to the floods when they seek to cross main roads after the culverts provided for them become clogged or blocked. Water voles are at risk of homelessness when their holes become flooded, and they become prey to mink. Salmon have actually been helped by the flooding to get to high spawning grounds but non-native species have been washed out of lakes and into rivers. It may be prudent to view with some concern any proposals to create new fishing lakes in flood plains.

7. Soil washed off surrounding fields may clog spawning gravel and smother weed and invertebrates, although the high flow rates may help to wash the silt out. It is too early to assess whether any wet meadow plan species have staged a comeback.

8. Peter Quarmby and his staff at the Agency’s office at Colden Common will be pleased to provide more detail to members who are interested. There is also a website - www.environment-agency.gov.uk.

COUNCILLOR BRENDA SMITH
New Forest District Council

Date: 6 March 2001
Contact: Cllr Brenda Smith - 023 8028 5435

Last update: 14/03/2001
Author: Nick Goulder, Policy Manager

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