Agenda item

Drainage & Flooding (Agenda Item 9)

Mr Phil Camamoile, Chief Executive of the Water Management Alliance, will be in attendance.  The Planning Manager and Principal Planning Policy Officer have also been invited to attend.

Minutes:

Mr Phil Camamile, Chief Executive of the Water Management Alliance, thanked Members for the opportunity to talk to them.

 

Members were shown two maps (attached for information).  The first showed the Norfolk County Council constituent IDBs and the second showed IDBs within the Breckland boundary.  The Drainage Boards were responsible for ordinary water courses – not main rivers, which came under the authority of the Environment Agency.

 

There were 22 Internal Drainage Boards (IDBs) in Norfolk which fell into five groups.  The Water Management Alliance covered about 20%.  The areas covered were those where the theoretical risk of flooding was the greatest.  However, because those areas were managed, the risk of flooding was actually low.

 

For the areas outside the IDBs the Council had authority and the power to make byelaws to protect activities in and alongside watercourses.  However, byelaws tended to be applied inconsistently.  Often it was water from developments outside the drainage areas that caused problems and that was difficult to control.

 

Mr Camamile suggested that there were two potential answers to the Council’s drainage problems.  They could either adopt byelaws, and the Water Management Alliance would be happy to help with that; or they could extend the areas of the Drainage Boards to the full extent of the water table.  The Norfolk Rivers Board would welcome the opportunity to work closely with the Council.

 

Mr Borrett noted that he was the Council’s (unpaid) appointee to the Norfolk Rivers IDB which he said was amazingly effective, important and efficient.  It had a lot of local knowledge and was very low cost to run.  He wholeheartedly supported the proposal to extend the boundaries of the IDBs as it would reduce the burden on the Council.

 

Mr Camamile clarified that the Council paid the Norfolk Rivers IDB £45,000 per year and received 83% of that back from central Government so the net cost was only £8,300.

 

Mr Bambridge was interested in the catchment areas of the IDBs.  He thought it was vital that they had influence outside their areas as that was often where problems came from.

 

Mr Camamile agreed.  Extending IDB areas would also allow them to collect drainage money from agricultural users who currently paid the Environment Agency and it would give control to local people.

 

Mrs Jolly asked what connection the IDBs had with Anglian Water and the Environment Agency with regard to sewage and drainage.

 

Mr Camamile explained that the aim was to work together when possible, but it depended on how pro-active each IDB was.  The Norfolk Flood Risk Management Partnership, set up by Norfolk County Council, was the lead local flood authority and involved all the operating agencies and should ensure integration.

 

Mr Kiddle-Morris noted that at Norfolk County Council the importance of the local knowledge of IDBs was stressed.  However, his main concern was that IDBs were not statutory planning consultees and he thought that they should be.  He also agreed that their areas of control should be extended.

 

Mr Camamile explained that if the IDB had an objection to a planning application they had to do so through the Environment Agency.  The IDBs did try to work with Local Planning Authorities through Planning Policy Statement (PPS) 25 during pre-application discussion but that was not good enough and they wanted a change to the law.


The Chairman noted that the National Planning Framework did away with PPSs and that there was no mention of drainage. 

 

Councillor Gould (Chairman of the Planning Committee) thought that the Council should consider adding the IDBs as statutory consultees.

 

The Vice-Chairman said that the IDBs were unsung heroes.  He thought that they should be statutory consultees.  With regard to liaison between agencies if one body had managed to bring them together it was a good thing.

 

Mr R Richmond asked if Mr Camamile could help with a problem in his ward.  They had written to the Environment Agency regarding the River Wensum which was only four feet wide in places.

 

Mr Camamile said that they were already trying to encourage the Environment Agency to de-main areas of the River Wensum which could then be adopted and looked after by the IDBs.  The Environment Agency did not have the money to maintain the river which was why it was getting choked up and that was causing flooding in some places.

 

Mr R Richmond asked if the Commission could invite a representative from the Environment Agency to a future meeting and the Chairman suggested this it should be added to the work programme at Agenda Item 15.

 

The Chairman thanked Mr Camamile for his presentation.

 

RESOLVED to:

 

(1)               ask the Planning Committee to recommend that IDBs became  statutory consultees; and

 

(2)               RECOMMEND TO CABINET that it:

 

(a)   considered Mr Camamile’s offer to give advice on the drafting of byelaws; or

(b)   extended the catchment areas of the IDBs to allow them to take a greater role in managing water courses and preventing future problems.

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