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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 14 January, 2013

Report of the Cabinet Member for the Environment and Visible Services

 

Local Flood Risk Management Strategy

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To update Members on recent developments and future activities regarding the implementation in Wales of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 and the Flood Risk Regulations 2009.

2.         To advise on the requirement for the Council to produce a Local Flood Risk Management Strategy (LFRMS), following the publication by Welsh Government of The National Flooding and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy for Wales in December 2011. 

3.         To enable the Committee to consider the Council’s ‘Draft Local Flood Risk Management Strategy’ prior to it being subjected to public consultation and subsequent approval by Cabinet later in 2013.

Recommendations

1.         That Members accept the Council's responsibility to produce a LFRMS.

2.         That Members agree to the commencement of formal statutory consultations on the draft LFRMS.

3.         That this report be referred to the Economy and Environment and Corporate Resources Scrutiny Committees as part of this consultation process.

4.         That on conclusion of the consultation process a further report be presented to Cabinet detailing the final strategy proposal.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To ensure that Members are aware of the requirements of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, in particular the need to produce a LFRMS.

2.         To ensure that public consultation is undertaken as part of the strategy.

3.         To ensure the views of the relative Scrutiny Committees are obtained as part of the consultation process.

4.         To allow Cabinet to give consideration to the consultation responses received and to agree the final strategy.

Background

4.         The general requirements and responsibilities of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 and the Flood Risk Regulations 2009 were detailed in the Cabinet Report of 8 June 2011 (Minute No C1336 refers).

5.         The number of flooding incidents seen across the UK is increasing each year as we experience higher rainfall and more prolonged storms as a consequence of climate change. The consequences of flooding can be devastating to local communities, businesses and the long term economic viability of an area. Hence, flooding and coastal erosion has received increased focus over recent years and is becoming a growing concern for local communities. To address this and to protect communities in the future a series of fundamental changes have been made to legislation relating to flooding. These are:

a) The Flood and Water Management Act commenced in October 2011, to provide better and more comprehensive management of flooding risks for people, homes and businesses in Wales. This designates each local authority as a Local Lead Flood Authority (LLFA) and places new responsibilities on them to develop, maintain, apply and monitor a strategy for local flood risk management in their area. This includes all sources of flooding, including ordinary watercourses, surface water run off and groundwater. The flood management responsibility for main rivers remains with the Environment Agency. The Act also gives the Environment Agency the strategic responsibility for supervising the management of flood and coastal erosion risk whilst placing the local leadership role with the local authorities.

b) Under the Flood Risk Regulations 2009, the Council is required to undertake and address flooding risks in the local authority area. The Regulations outline the roles and responsibilities of the various authorities consistent with the Flood and Water Management Act.

6.         In December 2011, Welsh Government published their National Flooding and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy for Wales, which established an overall framework for management of all sources of flooding and coastal erosion, setting out strategic aims and objectives, principles, actions and ways of working. It aims to ensure all risks are well-managed and co-ordinated, to minimise the impacts of flooding. There is a duty for each LLFA to produce their own Local Flood Risk Management Strategies and supplementary guidance is available on the structure and content of such strategies.

Relevant Issues and Options

Impacts of the Flood and Water Management Act

7.         On the 6th April 2012 the responsibility and regulatory powers for consenting and enforcement on ordinary watercourses transferred from the Environment Agency Wales to the LLFA. The Land Drainage Act 1991 will underpin ordinary watercourse regulation undertaken by the LLFAs. Approval from the Council as LLFA is now required to erect any dam, weir or other like obstruction to the flow of any ordinary watercourse, erect a culvert or alter a culvert in a manner that would be likely to affect the flow of an ordinary watercourse.

8.         The Act requires the development of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS), where practicable in all new developments. The introduction of national standards is aimed at reducing the risk of flood damage and improving water quality.

9.         The Act established the need for a SuDs Approving Body (SAB). Without the approving body's consent new developments will not be permitted to commence construction. In addition, the SAB consent must be granted prior to planning permissions, therefore creating a two stage process for all planning applications. Visible Services currently holds the drainage function for the Council and is recommended to be the SAB for the Council. They will work with developers and key stakeholders to ensure they understand the changes. The SAB process is fee generating and it is hoped that the fees will support further resources as and when required. Further guidance on the national standards for design, construction and maintenance of SuDS is yet to be issued for consultation. The full responsibilities for this role are still pending.

10.      The Act also requires each LLFA to collect, collate and maintain a drainage asset register, recording the ownership, condition and maintenance records of these assets. The aim of the register is to protect flood mitigation measures and help inform maintenance regimes for minimising flood risk in priority areas within the Vale of Glamorgan. Key structures, for example, garden walls, culverts, streams and buildings, will then require regular condition surveys to ensure they are maintained to help minimise flooding risks. The Act also requires the LLFA to identify and designate (and so safeguard) drainage assets that are owned, maintained or operated by third parties that assist in managing flood risk. Once designated it will be an offence to alter or remove the features without the consent of the LLFA.

11.      As LLFA the Council has a responsibility to investigate all surface water flooding and take appropriate action including commissioning surveys and investigations into the causes, advising third parties on mitigation and undertake work to resolve flooding issues. Each LLFA must outline to what extent it considers necessary or appropriate to investigate various levels of flooding. For any investigation carried out by the authority it must publish the findings and notify any relevant risk management authorities. It is proposed through the strategy development that a robust matrix is established to assist in defining what the Council deems appropriate investigatory responses to varied levels of flooding.

12.      The Act provides the LLFA with powers to carry out works to manage flood risk from surface water run off and groundwater. All works must be consistent with the local flood risk management strategy. For example, the LLFA may refer to its local flood risk management strategy and decide that surface water flood storage ponds are required to reduce incidents and the consequences of flooding.

Interlinking Flooding issues

13.      Coastal defences within the Vale will have to be assessed and a long term risk based protection and maintenance plan will have to be established. This will establish specific areas that need investment to protect the shoreline from coastal erosion to protect local communities and environment from flooding.

14.      Coldbrook Catchment Flood Management and Llanmaes Flood Alleviation Scheme are examples of high-risk areas that have been identified and appropriate mitigation steps are being taken through Council and Welsh Government funding. These schemes have been subject to Cabinet and Scrutiny reports respectively (Minute Nos C1771 and report to Scrutiny Economy and Environment 9 October 2012 refers).

Local Flood & Coastal Erosion Strategy

15.      The Local Flood Risk Management Strategy will very much be a live developing document that will set the Council’s principles and provide the strategy to prioritise objectives and risk based action plans. Over the next six years the Local Flood Risk Management Strategy will evolve and build as the statutory requirements continue to grow with time and further studies are commissioned and completed.

16.      The Strategy will seek to set out all the impacts and consequences of flooding and coastal erosion faced by the Council. Through a series of risk based studies; management and maintenance plans can be produced to consider and mitigate the impacts of flooding, coastal erosion and climate change. The strategy should deliver strong community engagement and partnership working to establish priorities and set meaningful objectives for the Vale of Glamorgan that will build over future years.

17.      The Council has a duty to produce a strategy in line with the national strategy and guidance, but may benefit in developing a progressive strategy that compasses all the associated flooding legal requirements and work that is being undertaken across the authority with regards to flooding. By developing a robust and comprehensive flooding and coastal erosion strategy for the Council, this will permit a holistic view of the risks and priorities to facilitate well informed future decision making to mitigate risks and benefit the residents of the Vale in delivering a sustainable and safer future.

18.      Through the strategy work, stronger links, understanding and cross agency working will be established with key partners such as the local communities, Environment Agency, Local Drainage Boards, water companies and also neighbouring authorities whose actions could impact on the Vale’s flooding and coastal erosions risks. As well as external stake holders, stronger cross working links within the Council will be enhanced with roles and responsibilities clearly defined. These will range from planning, highways, sustainability, civil protection, emergency responses and communications, through to ensuring our housing stock and social care providers are well informed to ensure the impacts of flooding on citizens are reduced as far as possible for future generations.

19.      To date, very little formal consultation work has been undertaken on flooding and coastal erosion for the key stake holders. Although local community engagement in targeted areas (i.e. the Coldbrook Catchment) has been undertaken, the wider views of the Vale's residents have yet to be captured. Through the strategy, further work will be undertaken to help establish what the residents and key stakeholders of the Vale understand to be the flooding risks, along with their view and expectations of the Council’s role, and also explore local communities’ appetite for self help and local solutions. An Executive Summary of The Draft Local Flood Risk Management Strategy is attached at Appendix 'A' and a full version is available in the Member's Room.  The document is subdivided into three parts;  'Local Flood Risk Management Strategy', 'Volume 2 Strategic Environmental Assessment' and 'Volume 3 Habitats Regulation Assessment'.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

20.      Welsh Government (WG) provided initial funding of £90,000 in 2011/12 and a further £90,000 in 2012/13. Only £30,182 was spent in 2011/12 however the balance of the grant was carried forward to 2012/2013 therefore there is £149,818 to spend in 2012/2013.  This was to support the initial implementation of the Flood and Water Act requirements and also to support the development of a local flooding and coastal erosion strategy.

21.      The funding has been used to procure technical support for the development of the Local Flood Risk Management Strategy. In addition the funding will be used to facilitate the required technologies needed to accurately record and inform the asset register. The information this database will provide will also inform efficient work programmes for maintenance, monitoring and investigation works.

22.      The Welsh Government highlight that the cost of mitigation measures can be significant and cannot be met by currently available funding. They have noted an expectation that local authorities will have to afford additional expenditure in future budget setting and give consideration to additional charges, levies and partnership arrangements wherever possible. National and European funding may be available but is insufficient to afford all mitigation measures required across Wales.

23.      Funding will be allocated strictly on a risk based priority by the Welsh Government to deliver long term investment plans. The development of a local holistic flooding strategy for the Vale of Glamorgan that links with neighbouring flood authorities may help strengthen any future bids that may be required.

24.      The Council will be in a position to bid for any available funding streams in 2013/14 if our Local Flood Risk Management Strategy has been approved by the Cabinet and then endorsed by Welsh Government prior to 1st April 2013. It is anticipated that the Cabinet will approve the ‘Local Flood Risk Management & Coastal Strategy’ in early 2013.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

25.      The preparation of a Local Flood Risk Management Strategy will provide the Council with the appropriate tool to effectively manage the flood risk to its communities. It will permit the Council to review the latest climate change predictions as further information becomes available. It will provide the Council with the strategy that will allow it to direct its resources to obtain the greatest flood risk benefit.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

26.      The Flood and Water Management Act 2010 and the Flood Risk Regulations 2009 impose legal duties on the Council to manage flood risk and these are detailed within the report and appendix.

Crime and Disorder Implications

27.      There are no crime and disorder implications to this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

28.      Flooding can affect all sections of the community.

29.      There are no Welsh Language issues in relation to this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

30.      To maintain a clean and enhanced environment.

Policy Framework and Budget

31.      The report is a matter for Executive decision by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

32.      The Council has a duty to undertake consultation on the draft Local Flood Risk Management Strategy (LFRMS). The Flood and Water Management Act 2010 states (in Section 9) that:

“A lead local flood authority must consult the following about its local flood risk management strategy:

(a) Risk management authorities that may be affected by the strategy (including risk management authorities in Wales), and

(b) The public.”

In order to consult with the wider community the proposed consultation methodology will be to make the draft document, containing integral consultation questions, available to a wide audience. The consultation period has been set at 6 weeks and will run from a date to be confirmed following approval of this Cabinet Report and will be offered both in hard copies in our Council offices and buildings and via the website. We will inform Vale Viewpoint, our citizen’s panel, that the consultation is underway.

Other stakeholders who will receive the consultation draft and related documents include:

The Environment Agency Wales (or subsequent equivalent authority)

Countryside Council for Wales (or subsequent equivalent authority)

Dwr Cymru Welsh Water (or subsequent equivalent authority)

Other neighbouring Local authorities

All the comments made will be documented within a further report to Cabinet. For each substantial comment a response will be provided and where comments have influenced the final strategy proposed this will be explained.  Where it is not possible or practical to take account of a comment a reasoned justification will be given. In this way the report will clearly document the changes that are made to the strategy as a result of the consultation exercise prior to any agreement by Cabinet. As this report affects all areas of the Vale of Glamorgan there has been no specific Ward Member consultation. 

Background Papers

33.      None.

Contact Officer

Chris Perkins, Group Engineer Highway Structures and Engineering Projects Tel. No. 02929673075

 

Officers Consulted

Operational Manager Legal Services

Accountant, Visible and Building Services

Director of Development Services

 

Responsible Officer:

Miles Punter Director of Visible Services and Housing

 

 

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