Somerset Rivers Authority Board decisions 21 June, 2019

A summary of what happened at the Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) Board meeting on 21 June, 2019. Not every item on the agenda is covered. Only items that required decisions to be taken are featured below.

Item 1: Election of New Chair

Cllr David Hall was elected as the SRA’s Chair, Tony Bradford as the Vice-Chair.

Item 4: Draft minutes of the SRA meeting on 1 March, 2019

It was agreed that the minutes of the SRA Board Meeting held on 1 March, 2019 should be signed as accurate.

Item 6: Memorandum of Understanding 2019-20

As recommended, the SRA Board: Approved the updated Memorandum of Understanding Individually signed the Memorandum of Understanding

Item 8: Q4 2018-19 Finance Report

As recommended, the SRA Board noted:

  1. The financial performance as at the end of quarter four of 2018-19.
  2. The re-allocation of contingency as per section three.

Item 9: Precepting legislation

As recommended, the SRA Board:

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

Approved the allocation of up to £100,000 of funding for use in 2019-20 to commission the expertise required to prepare a proposal for submission to the Secretary of State for the creation of a Rivers Authority in Somerset.

Item 10: Key Project Updates

10a: Taunton Strategic Flood Alleviation Improvements Scheme

As recommended, the SRA Board considered the contents of the report and progress made on Phase 2 of the Taunton Strategic Flood Alleviation Improvements Scheme (TSFAIS).

Item 10b: Dredging Oath to Burrowbridge

As recommended, the SRA Board noted:

  1. The project is being developed in tandem with the Environment Agency managed Sowy Enhancement scheme.
  2. Unlike previous dredging projects, the incombination effects of both of these projects must be assessed and the details of any necessary environmental mitigation agreed before the schemes can be accepted as legally compliant.
  3. On 1 May 2019 an informal consultation exercise commenced, which ended on 31 May. Two public drop-in events were held, one at Burrowbridge, the other in Langport. In addition, the project has been covered in local newspapers, websites and on local radio.
  4. Further work will now take place to complete the Environmental Statement (ES) such that it can be advertised on 1 July with a 30-day statutory consultation exercise running until 31 July.
  5. Tender documents are being issued during week commencing 17 June and are due to be returned on 15 July.

Item 10c: Sowy/King’s Sedgemoor Drain (KSD)

As recommended, the SRA Board:

  1. Noted progress with development of the design for further enhancement of the Sowy-King’s Sedgemoor Drain system.
  2. Agreed to support key partners and stakeholders to come together to deliver the revised Water Level Management Plan (WLMP) and reach a consensus on the control structures required for ecological mitigation.

Item 10d: Strategic Approach to Mitigation

As recommended, the SRA Board noted:

  1. The outputs of the modelling of the combined full schemes (Sowy, and Oath to Burrowbridge dredge).
  2. Partners are in the process of finalising the impacts of current schemes and priorities for strategic mitigation.
  3. Delivery requires ongoing commitment from SRA partners to maintain the special characteristics of the Somerset Levels and Moors.

Item 10e: River Brue

As recommended, the SRA Board noted the latest position with projects in the Brue catchment.

Item 10f: Bridgwater Tidal Barrier

As recommended, the SRA Board noted:

  1. We have secured Large Project Review Group’s (LPRG) technical assurance of the Outline Business Case (OBC).
  2. OBC assurance by Defra and Her Majesty’s Treasury (HMT) will be suspended until after a decision is reached on the Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO).
  3. Somerset CC/Sedgemoor DC submitted an application to the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) in March.
  4. We will meet with Chilton Trinity Parish Council and explore the option to set up a liaison group.
  5. Undertake additional ground investigations at the barrier site this summer / autumn.
  6. We are on programme to complete the Environmental Impact Assessment, Environmental Statement and TWAO documents and submit these to the Secretary of State for the Environment before the end of the year.
  7. SRA Board is asked to consider additional funding opportunities for scheme enhancements.
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