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Development of SRA's 2017-18 Enhanced Programme and policies

During 2016-17, members of the SRA put forward over 55 proposals to deliver flood risk management measures. These proposals aim to address flood risks in Somerset, either known within the proposer’s organisation or brought to their attention by others, including members of the community. However, with a limited budget, the SRA needs a clear method of identifying which proposals are the highest priorities. The method used in 2015-16 to develop the 2016-17 Enhanced Programme required that a proposal must address a need (defined as delivering one of the 6 key Somerset Flood Action Plan priorities, which include wider public benefits), and that it must not be fundable through other sources (ie, it must be additional work). However, the method used had drawbacks, including the subjective nature of the scoring.

As a result, the SRA Board at the beginning of 2016-17 charged the SRA Management Group with reviewing and developing a policy framework and prioritisation methodology. This work resulted in the development of SRA Policies and a set of scoring criteria for each of the Flood Action Plan objectives.

The SRA Technical Group used the Policies and scoring criteria to develop a prioritised list of proposals for consideration by the Board. However, it became clear that on its own the scoring methodology adopted did not result in a Programme that is consistent with the Policies, particularly in the area of geographic and Flood Action Plan workstream balance: specifically, without adjustment, no Urban Water Management or Building Local Resilience proposals could ever score high enough to be included. As a result, the Board asked the Management Group to work with the Technical Group to adjust the list using professional judgement, and identify recommendations as to which actions outside the list should be promoted and which dropped.

Adjustments to the list

The first adjustments were made to ensure that all workstreams featured in the programme; this meant actions for Urban Water Management and Building Local Resilience needed to be included and those that scored highest were chosen.
The next step was to review all the actions that made the grade for deliverability, value for money and sustainability, and at the same time review all the larger value actions within that list (ones worth more than £100k) to see if their value could or should be reduced, to allow for the inclusion of others whose importance was not reflected in the scoring criteria. It was agreed that this latter step would only be applied to actions that were scalable, and not whole schemes.
The final prioritised list of 23 actions was reviewed by the SRA Management Group and then by the SRA Board, who approved it as the 2017-18 Enhance Programme at their meeting of March 13th, 2017.

Somerset Rivers Authority Policies governing development of the SRA Enhanced Programme

1. Geographic scope

  • Fundable works can be in or outside the county as long as they deliver Flood Action Plan objectives of benefit to Somerset, although the majority of spend will be within the County
  • The important thing is where the benefit is gained, i.e. there is no requirement for equal spend by district
  • We will have a 4 Year rolling Programme that is balanced; geographically, and by type of activity, and will use judgement to assess this balance
  • The SRA will not fund works for protection from coastal flooding, with the coast as defined by The Coastal Protection Action 1949
2. Financial

  • The SRA will fund those projects and schemes that deliver our objectives that cannot be funded from current funding streams
  • SRA funding is additional to that already attracted by partners for projects and works
  • The SRA via the ‘Grant Proposal form’ will look for evidence that partners and other applicants have tried to secure and apply for other sources of funding
  • The SRA will encourage applications which will lever in additional funding from other sources (i.e. jointly-funded projects/works)
3. The long view

The SRA will test proposals for funding against the following:
  • Whole life costs
  • Community benefits/disbenefits
  • Economic benefits/disbenefits
  • Environmental benefits/disbenefits
  • Long-term strategic plans
4. Flood Risk and evidence

  • The SRA will seek to support proposals that meet one or more of the 6 Flood Action Plan flood risk management objectives
  • Concurrent with taking action and delivering works on the ground the SRA will take the opportunity to gather evidence and monitor the impacts of its actions and activities
  • The SRA will rely on technical professional judgement from SRA partners, combined with existing modelling to assess in-combination effects across the catchments
5. Responsibilities

  • The SRA only fund and undertake works/projects that benefit the wider community
  • The SRA expect property owners (land, buildings and infrastructure) to make themselves and their property more resilient and put plans in place to manage their flood risk
  • The SRA work to support riparian owners fulfilling their obligations/responsibilities
6. Relationships and weightings

The SRA use a scoring mechanism, based on the 6 Flood Action Plan objectives, to determine the relative importance of different types and scales of need, flood risk management work and different benefits/dis benefits

7. Cost-shunting

The SRA funding is additional to partners’ own funding for flood and water management and we do not expect that partners will shunt costs onto the SRA. Where partners reduce spending on flood and water management, the SRA will not pick up these costs.

Note: Somerset Flood Action Plan objectives are -

  • Reduce the frequency, depth and duration of flooding
  • Maintain access for communities and business
  • Increase resilience to flooding for families, agriculture, businesses, communities, and wildlife
  • Make the most of the natural characteristics of Somerset, including the special characteristics of the Somerset Levels and Moors (the internationally important biodiversity, environmental and cultural heritage)
  • Ensure strategic road and rail connectivity, both within Somerset and through the county to the South West peninsula
  • Promote business confidence and growth
If you would like to get in touch please contact us at sra@somerset.gov.uk or tel: 01823 355111
The Flood Action Plan is now overseen by the Somerset Rivers Authority and can be contacted on the above.