ROMNEY MARSHES AREA INTERNAL DRAINAGE BOARD
POLICY STATEMENT ON FLOOD PROTECTION AND WATER LEVEL MANAGEMENT
1.1 This policy statement has been prepared by Romney Marshes Area Internal Drainage Board to provide a public statement of the Board’s approach to its management of flood risk and water levels in its area.
1.2 The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has policy responsibility for flood and coastal defence in England. However, delivery is the responsibility of a number of flood and coastal defence “operating authorities” which includes the Romney Marshes Area Internal Drainage Board. The Board maintained infrastructure is shown in para 3.2 below.
1.3 The Government has published a policy aim and three objectives for flood and coastal defence1. To ensure a more certain delivery of the aim and objectives by the individual operating authorities the Government has published a series of high level targets 2. The first target requires each operating authority to publish a policy statement setting out their plans for delivering the Government’s policy aim and objectives in their area. This will include an assessment of the risk of flooding in their area, and what plans they have to reduce that risk.
1.4 This policy statement fulfils that requirement. Copies are available from the Board’s Offices at Suite 7, Old Barn Offices, Salts Farm, east Guldeford, Rye, E Sussex, TN31 7PA. We are also providing a copy to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Environment Agency and local authorities in the district.
2. HOW THE BOARD WILL DELIVER THE GOVERNMENT’S POLICY AIM AND OBJECTIVES
2.1 Romney Marshes Area IDB supports the Government’s aim and objectives for flood and coastal defence. Our policy and approach will be consistent with them.
To reduce the risk to people and the developed and natural environment from flooding and coastal erosion by encouraging the provision of technically, environmentally and economically sound and sustainable defence measures.
Section 3 below sets out our plans for reducing or managing the flood risk in the Board’s district.
To encourage the provision of adequate and cost effective flood warning systems.
The Board will assist the Environment Agency wherever possible in its provision of adequate and cost effective flood warning systems. Integrating with the Agency in response to flood emergencies and participating as necessary in exercises to develop and test emergency response procedures.
To encourage the provision of adequate, economically, technically and environmentally sound and sustainable flood and coastal defences.
- In meeting with its obligations the Board will consider its activities within the wider natural and developed environment seeking to ensure the avoidance of any adverse impact. It will equally co-operate with other drainage authorities and organisations to ensure adverse impacts on the drainage district do not arise as a result of other activities.
- The Board will carry out its maintenance and improvement works in an efficient and cost effective manner and where appropriate use best practice and use appropriately qualified advice when necessary.
- To achieve this the Board will encourage the provision of adequate, economically, technically and environmentally sound and sustainable flood protection and water level management measures and seek to control that development which could increase that risk of flooding.
- Within the drainage district potentially all the area is at some risk to flooding and the Board will seek to retain this risk at acceptable levels through appropriate improvements and the implementation of a sound maintenance strategy. They will also seek to ensure that the Environment Agency maintains at a satisfactory standard any flood defences which also afford protection to the district.
To discourage inappropriate development in areas at risk from flooding.
The potential impact on flood risk through future development in the Drainage District, or in the wider catchment draining to the District, is fully recognised by the Board and it will take an active role in the assessment of structure planning, local plans and individual applications to ensure flood risk is not increased. Where appropriate the Board will secure from developers, and other direct beneficiaries, contributions to cover the cost of both immediate and longer-term works necessary in ensuring that any potential increase in flood risk is removed.
3. FLOODING RISKS IN THE BOARD’S AREA
3.1 As mentioned in Section 2, the entire area is at some risk to flooding but that risk is substantially controlled but varying standards of protection apply. The following are the key details of the district:
Catchment Area draining to and including the District 93,906 ha
Total area of the District 33,170 ha
Area of Agricultural Land 27,391 ha
Other land including property, highways, etc. 5,779 ha
Sites of Designated Environmental Interest
European Sites 37,490 ha
Wetland SSSI 9,137 ha
Nature Reserve 3,172 ha
3.2 Board Maintained Infrastructure
Pumping Stations 5 No.
Watercourses 350 km
Length of Watercourse in Culverts of >10m 1.7 km
Raised Embankments 8.0 km
Passing through the district are the following assets maintained by the Environment Agency:
Pumping Stations 31 No.
Major Sluices and Outfalls 25 No.
Main River 324 km
River Flood Defences 76 km
Sea and Tidal Defences 56 km
Critical Ordinary Watercourses 4 km
3.3 Regulation of Activities
The Board will exercise as required its powers under the Land Drainage Act 1991 and its Bye-laws to ensure that activities in and alongside its drainage system do not reduce flood protection standards and unnecessarily increase flood risk.
3.4 Standard of Protection
Through the operation and maintenance of the pumping stations and the channel system the Board seek to maintain a general standard capable to providing flood protection to agricultural land and developed areas of 1 in 20 and 1 in 100 years respectively. This likely return period can not be taken literally and should be considered as a chance of some overspilling from the system taking place each year as 5% and 1% respectively.
There are no areas which are more vulnerable due to the particular local circumstances.
3.5 Management of Flood Risks
The Board monitor the condition of its pumping stations and watercourses, overspilling from which could affect property. Consistent with the established need a routine maintenance programme is in place to ensure that the condition of the assets is commensurate with the standard of protection sought. Where standards are not at the policy level, improvement works, where they can be demonstrated to meet with DEFRA criteria, will be considered and undertaken as appropriate.
The Board welcomes from its agricultural ratepayers, special levy councils and members of the public any comments on the condition of its system, which could lead to any increased flood risk.
The Board will seek to promote the need for works in its District and create a rational understanding among people who live and work in it as to what the flood risk is and what efforts are made to control it. They will also seek to achieve directly and through local councils a culture within which the watercourses are seen as vital to controlling flood risk, whilst providing an interesting aquatic habitat and dissuade abuse of them through dumping waste or obstructing flows in other ways. The Board will publish its proposed annual programme of capital and maintenance work.
4. ENVIRONMENTAL MEASURES
4.1 The Romney Marshes Area IDB has conservation duties under the Land Drainage Act 1991, the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and as a competent authority under the Conservation (Natural Habitats C) Regulation 1994. The Board will fulfil these in a positive way.
Much of the Boards watercourse maintenance work of vegetation control and de-silting is a vital and routine requirement. Whilst inevitably some short-term impact will arise, this management is essential also to maintain the diverse aquatic habitat in the district. The Board maintains only a small proportion of the total watercourse length in the district, the significant majority being the responsibility of the riparian landowners.
When carrying out works, be it maintenance or improvement, and consistent with the need to maintain satisfactory flood protection standards, we will aim to
- avoid any unnecessary or long term damage to all long term habitats
- ensure no net loss of habitats covered by Biodiversity Action Plans, monitoring any gains and losses
- take appropriate opportunities to enhance habitats
4.2 The Board will play its full role in sustaining the water level plans prepared for the SSSI and, in conjunction with Natural England and other interested parties review the plan in accordance with DEFRA guidance.
5. REVIEW OF POLICY STATEMENT
Romney Marshes Area IDB will review this Policy Statement within a period not extending beyond five years.
1 Strategy for Flood and Coastal Defence in England and Wales MAFF and Welsh Office
2 High Level Targets for Flood and Coastal Defence Operating Authorities and Elaboration of the Environment Agency’s Flood Defence Supervisory Duty MAFF, November 1999