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ADA NEWS | ada gazette SPRING 2014

IN BRIEF: • ADA gives evidence to the EFRA Committee. Henry Cator (ADA Chairman), Jean Venables (ADA Chief Executive) and Tony Bradford (Vice Chairman of ADA's South West branch and Parrett IDB board member) presented evidence on 26 February to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee. The evidence session was part of the Winter Floods inquiry, focusing on the implications of the recent winter fl oods and following up on the maintenance issues and recommendations that the Committee raised last year in its report on Managing Flood Risk. Chaired by Anne McIntosh MP, the video and audio of the meeting can be viewed Player.aspx?meetingId=14968. A summary of the meeting will be published on the ADA website and included in the Summer issue of the Gazette.

• ADA Golf Day 2014. The next ADA Golf Day will be held on Tuesday 3 June at Sleaford Golf Club, near Grantham, (NG34 8PL). As usual, the competition will be using Better Ball Stableford rules with a maximum handicap of 24 (please note that competitors with handicaps above 24 must play off 24). Coffee and bacon baps will be available prior to play, and the competition will be followed by dinner and presentation of the winners trophy. Shower and changing facilities are available in the clubhouse. If you are interested in playing at this year's Golf Day please contact Sam Edwards at

Thursday 20 March at the Great Northern Hotel, Peterborough


2014 Local Authority, RFCC, and IDB members are entitled to nominate up to two delegates to attend the seminar free of charge. In the case of IDBs the seminar is open to local authority nominated representatives who are on the Drainage Board.(Additonal delegates can attend for £70 + vat per person)

Presentation topics include: • Flooding issues •

• Water Bill and Local Audit & Accountability Bill • • Vegetation & channel management • • Partnership funding •

• Public Sector Cooperation Agreement • • Legality in drainage •

• General Q & A session • Refreshments at 10:00 with 11:00 start. Close at 15:00

2014 LAS sponsored by: Contact Tim Vickers: 020 8399 7350 to attend

ADA Chairman writes to David Cameron: 'The crucial roles of fl ood risk management, water level management and maintenance in the economic and

social life of the UK' Following the fl ood events which occurred in December 2013 and early January 2014, ADA Chairman Henry Cator wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron on 6 January calling for a change in policy. Henry Cator praised the work done by a

range of organisations working in partnership – the Environment Agency (EA), Local Authorities, Internal Drainage Boards and the emergency services – to increase levels of protection over recent years, and to warn, evacuate, house and assist recovery for victims of fl ooding. It was noted that the recent December event on the east coast was larger than the 1953 fl ood event, with no fatalities, compared to 350 people killed in 1953. However, Henry outlined ADA’s major concerns going forward:

 the Environment Agency has confi rmed the loss of 1,500 jobs, many of which will be in the area of fl ood risk management;

 the budget for maintenance of fl ood defence assets has been cut to the point where those cuts are signifi cantly increasing fl ood risks to many communities; and

 Internal Drainage Boards (who look after and maintain the equivalent total length of watercourse that the EA maintains) are having their budgets constrained in anticipation of the Local Audit and Accountability Bill currently before Parliament, making them at severe risk of being unable to fund much-needed work in their catchments.

The ADA Chairman used the most recent example of the storms over the Christmas period to exemplify the implications of reduced maintenance activity. Much had been made of the delay in re-connecting consumers to the electricity supply following the storms, largely due to diffi culties with access to sub-stations and fallen electricity poles because they were on fl ooded land or access to them had to be made across fl ooded land. He stated that after a fl ood, a major factor in the speed of recovery is the rate at which fl oodwater can fl ow away from the aff ected areas and/or be pumped into rivers. If drainage channels, and especially main river channels, are not properly and eff ectively maintained for capacity, the rate at which fl ood water can fl ow away is restricted, sometimes very severely (for example in Somerset in 2012). Consequently, access by infrastructure maintenance teams – particularly electricity line repair teams – is similarly severely restricted. Henry highlighted the interconnectedness 6

of severe weather, fl ood risk, maintenance, infrastructure and recovery, and that lessons needed to be learnt once the period of extreme events is over. He concluded that there was a need for a reversal of the policy to reduce maintenance spending on fl ood defence assets and channel capacity; a pause – even a reversal – of the cuts to Environment Agency staffi ng, and a removal of IDBs from the capping list as proposed in the Local Audit and Accountability Bill. He stated that ADA’s membership was ready to assist the Government in understanding these


David Cameron meeting with the Environment Agency

issues with greater clarity and to work towards further reductions in fl ood risk to UK citizens, whether from surface water run-off , overfl owing rivers, or surge and wind-heightened tides. A similar lett er was sent to Owen Paterson,

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Aff airs. Additionally ADA wrote to the Telegraph and the Times newspapers. A signifi cantly edited lett er to the Editor featured in the Times on 9 January.

The full lett ers can be found on the ADA website under Publications at

Jean Venables on the Today

Programme – BBC Radio 4 TIM VICKERS

On 28 February ADA’s Chief Executive Dr Jean Venables, was interviewed on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme. Jean Venables spoke mainly on the fl ooding in the Somerset Levels, shortly before Lord Smith, Chairman of the Environment Agency was also interviewed. On the situation at that moment in time in

the Somerset Levels Jean Venables stated “It’s a disaster area down there and it could have been avoided if we had actually kept up with maintenance of the rivers. We’ve got a 20 year backlog of inactivity there and it’s actually very urgent that those rivers are dredged. There are other actions that can be taken as well upstream of the catchment, but it is very important that when you have an area of special drainage need that you actually have an outlet. The river is actually the outlet to that drainage area and it has to have suffi cient capacity to be able to drain that area.” When asked further on the role of dredging

Jean Venables continued “This land regularly fl oods and we all accept that – it is a fl ood plain – but the purpose of a fl ood plain is for it to take excess water at the time of the storm and then to drain away. We would expect a fl ood plain to drain away and then be ready for the next fl ood. What is happening there is that there is no capacity for it to drain away and it is therefore accumulating and we are seeing the disaster that that is causing.” In the fi nal stages of her interview Dr

Venables admitt ed that the weather conditions being experienced were extreme and called on the need to invest in these areas and on maintenance, challenging the current system of funding prioritisation in fl ood risk management.

(Environment Agency)

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