Somerset Rivers Authority Board Summary of Decisions, 1 March 2019

This page summarises what happened at the Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) Board meeting on 1 March, 2019. Not every item on the agenda is covered. Only items that required decisions to be taken are featured below.

Item 3: Minutes of the SRA meeting on 7 December 2018


It was agreed that the minutes of the SRA Board Meeting held on 7 December 2018 should be signed as accurate, subject to two clarifications in the report of members’ discussion about the River Brue project.

Item 5: LEP Variation request

As recommended, the SRA Board:

1. Considered the need to revise and update the current Local Enterprise Partnership Funding agreement to ensure it is consistent and accurately captures all the anticipated project outputs.

2. Delegated authority to agree the final contents of the variation request to the Chairman and Vice-Chairman to enable this agreement to happen between Board Meetings.

3. Noted that Somerset County Council, as the accountable body for the SRA, will ultimately sign any revised agreement.

Item 7: Key Project Updates

Item 7a: Taunton Strategic Flood Alleviation Improvements Scheme

As recommended, the SRA Board:

1. Noted the report and progress made on Phase 2 of the Taunton Strategic Flood Alleviation Improvements Scheme.

Item 7b: Pioneer Dredge, Oath to Burrowbridge

As recommended, the SRA Board:

1. Noted progress made since the decision to deliver a full scheme.

2. Noted that there are still challenges ahead that are being worked through, and that these need to be resolved to allow delivery of a full scheme in autumn 2019.

Item 7c: Sowy-King’s Sedgemoor Drain enhancements

As recommended, the SRA Board:

1. Noted and supported the development of design for further enhancement of the Sowy-King’s Sedgemoor Drain system.

2. Supported the joint working of key partners and stakeholders in agreeing the necessary revised Water Level Management Plan actions and the control structures required for ecological mitigation.

Item 7d: Strategic Approach to Mitigation

As recommended, the SRA Board:

1. Supported the principles of Strategic Mitigation have been agreed by the working group as set out in annex 1.

2. Noted that a list of potential sites/areas where mitigation could be delivered has been produced.

3. Supported the required investments in both physical infrastructure and legally binding changes to water level management protocols.

4. Noted that the quantum and location of mitigation required is proportionate to the scale and cumulative impact of current and future SRA flood alleviation projects.

5. Noted that assessing cumulative impacts is complex.

6. Supported Natural England, the Drainage Boards and Environment Agency in the process of agreeing a shared understanding of the impacts of current schemes and priorities for strategic mitigation.

7. Noted that delivery requires ongoing commitment from SRA partners to maintain the special characteristics of the Somerset Levels and Moors.

Item 7e: Brue catchment update

As recommended, the SRA Board:

1. Noted the latest position with projects in the Brue catchment.

2. Confirmed support for the need to identify options other than the originally-planned de-silting works to make use of LEP funds allocated to the Brue catchment by March 2021.

3. Agreed to review alternative proposals for works in the Brue Catchment between now and the next Board meeting to ensure progress is made quickly.

The Board also made two additional recommendations:

4. Requested that a meeting between the Chairman, key Board members and officers should be arranged with the next two weeks to discuss options for project delivery.

5. Delegated authority to decide on the preferred course of action to the Chairman.

Item 7f: Bridgwater Tidal Barrier

As recommended, the SRA Board:

1. Noted that Sedgemoor District Council has completed the acquisition of Heron Court on Express Park.

2. Noted that Chilton Trinity Parish Council is objecting to the proposed footway/cycleway bridge at the Barrier. A further public drop-in at Chilton Trinity is planned to seek community views and feedback.

3. Acknowledged that The Environment Agency’s Large Project Review Group had noted that there will be ongoing scrutiny on affordability given marketplace uncertainty such as Brexit.

4. Supported project partners in continuing to work to secure approval from the Environment Agency’s Flood and Coastal Risk Committee, Defra and HM Treasury for submission of the Transport Works Act Order.

5. Noted that Somerset County Council and Sedgemoor District Council will submit an application for Housing Infrastructure Funding in March.

6. Considered additional funding opportunities for scheme enhancements.

Item 8: SRA Precepting Legislation Update

As recommended, the SRA Board:

1. Considered the latest position in relation to progress of the Rivers Authorities and Land Drainage Bill.

2. Noted the launch of a Defra consultation on 15 January which explicitly states that ‘The government proposes to secure the future of the Somerset Rivers Authority with the necessary legislation’.

3. Delegated the authority for final sign-off of a Somerset Rivers Authority response to the Defra consultation to the Chairman and Vice-Chairman.

Item 9: Quarter 3 2018-19 Finance Report

As recommended, the SRA Board noted:

1. Noted the financial performance as at the end of Quarter Three of 2018-19.

Item 10: 2019/20 Administration

Item 10a: SRA Budget for 2019-20

As recommended, the SRA Board:

1. Noted the contents of this report and approve the 2019-20 ‘shadow precept’ plus IDB contribution budget.

2. Approved the use of £60,000 of contingency funds towards the 2019-20 budget.

Item 10b: 2019-20 Enhanced Programme

As recommended, the SRA Board:

1. Approved the proposed SRA 2019-20 Enhanced Programme.

Item 10c: 2019-20 Memorandum of Understanding

As recommended, the SRA Board:

1. Reviewed the revised 2019-20 Memorandum of Understanding.

2. Agreed that the existing SRA Memorandum of Understanding and constitution should be rolled over to 2019-20 without amendment, other than those minor changes set out under ‘Latest status’.

3. Agreed to ensure necessary approvals within their own organisations to enable formal signing of the revised MoU at the June Board meeting.

The Board also made an additional recommendation:

4. Requested that the composition of the SRA Board should be reviewed as a result of the number of local authority representatives reducing by one, following the establishment of the new Somerset West and Taunton Council in April 2019.

Item 10d: 2019-20 Calendar of meetings

As recommended, the SRA Board:

1. Agreed the 2019/20 Calendar of meetings

Item 11: Any Other Business (AOB)

The Board requested that progress updates on the review and updating of the Flood Action Plan to should be added as a standing item on future agendas.

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