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THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

CABINET: 4TH MARCH, 2013

 

REFERENCE FROM SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT): 12TH FEBRUARY, 2013

 

 

“           LOCAL FLOOD RISK MANAGEMENT STRATEGY (REF) -

 

Cabinet had referred the report to the Scrutiny Committee to ensure the views of the Scrutiny Committee were obtained as part of the consultation process.  The Council had a duty to produce a strategy in line with the national strategy and guidance. The general requirements and responsibilities of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 and the Flood Risk Regulations 2009 had been detailed in a Cabinet report of 8th June, 2011. 

 

The number of flooding incidents seen across the U.K. had been on the increase each year and to address the situation and protect communities in the future a series of fundamental changes had been made to legislation relating to flooding.  The Flood and Water Management Act of October 2011 designated each local authority as the Local Lead Flood Authority (LLFA) and placed new responsibilities on local authorities to develop, maintain, apply and monitor a strategy for local flood risk management in their areas.  This also included sources of flooding, ordinary water courses, surplus water run-off and ground water.  The flood management responsibilities for main rivers however, remained with the Environment Agency.  The Act also provided the Environment Agency with a strategic responsibility for supervising the management of flood and coastal erosion risk whilst placing the local leadership role with local authorities directly.  Approval from local authorities as LLFA’s would be required in order to erect a dam, weir or other life obstruction to the flow of any ordinary water course, erect a culvert or alter a culvert in a manner that would be likely to affect the flow of an ordinary water course.

 

The Act also required the development of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) where practicable in all new developments.  The introduction of such national standards was aimed at reducing the risk of flood damage and improving water quality.  The Act established the need for a SuDS Approving Body (SAB) which with the approving body's consent new developments would not be permitted to commence construction.  Visible Services currently held the drainage function for the Council and was also recommended to be the SAB for the Council.  The SAB process was fee generating with the hope that the fees would support further resources as and when required.  However, further guidance on the national standards for design, construction and maintenance of SuDS was yet to be issued for consultation.  Each LLFA would be required to collect, collate and maintain a drainage asset register recording the ownership, condition and maintenance records of such assets.  The aim of the register was to protect flood mitigation measures and help inform maintenance regimes minimising flood risk in priority areas in the Vale of Glamorgan.  As an LLFA the Council also had 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 to undertake work to resolve flooding issues. 

 

An executive summary of the draft Local Flood Risk Management Strategy was attached at Appendix A to the report with a full version being available in the Council's Members' Room and the Council’s website.  The document was sub-divided into three parts: Local Flood Risk Management Strategy, Volume 2 Strategic Environmental Assessment and Volume 3 Habitats Regulation Assessment.

 

It was noted that the Welsh Government had provided initial funding of £90,000 in 2011/12 and a further £90,000 in 2012/13.  The funding had been provided to support the initial implementation of the Flood and Water Act requirements and to support the development of a Local Flooding and Coastal Erosion Strategy.  Welsh Government highlighted that the cost of mitigation measures could be significant and could not be implemented by current available funding. There was an expectation on local authorities to have to afford additional expenditure in future budget setting and to give consideration to additional charges, levies and partnership arrangements wherever possible.  Although national and European funding may be available the report highlighted that it would be insufficient to afford all mitigation measures required across Wales.  Therefore, funding would be allocated strictly on a risk-based priority by the Welsh Government to deliver long term investment plans.  The Council would be in a position to bid for any available funding streams in 2013/14 if the Local Flood Risk Management Strategy was approved by the Cabinet and endorsed by Welsh Government prior to 1st April, 2013. 

 

The Director urged Members to consider the document and to identify any areas within their Wards that they felt may need further consideration. He advised that he would be happy to receive any individual comments from members as part of the consultation process; alternatively members could provide comments via the Council’s web site.  Following the consultation a further report would be presented to the Scrutiny Committee.  All Council strategies would be provided to Welsh Government and this would enable a more strategic approach to be taken on flood risk management funding decisions in future. Members noted the significant responsibilities of the legislation and the duties required by the local authority and were particularly concerned that the resources may not be available to deliver the Strategy.  They referred to a number of areas throughout the Vale where problems currently existed and although they were pleased that a strategy was being addressed the long term financial implications for the Council was of significant concern.   It would also be important to ensure that the sharing of expertise with neighbouring authorities and consultants was encouraged.

 

Having considered the report it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the discussions above be forwarded to Cabinet for consideration and information.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To outline the Committee's concerns to Cabinet.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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