Water Management needs to be top of Political Agenda

Flood risk management needs to stay at the top of the public and political agenda, even after flood waters recede, shadow environment minister Sue Hayman MP has stated, as she addressed the need for a co-ordinated approach to water level management, and a fair funding formula.

Speaking at the 81st annual conference of ADA, the membership organisation for drainage, water level and flood risk management authorities, the Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs drew on her own experiences within her Workington constituency in Cumbria. Mrs Hayman was elected in 2015, just six months before Storm Desmond hit her constituency, devastating many homes, schools and businesses.

Sue Hayman MP

Sue Hayman MP, addressing the ADA Conference 2018

Describing the shocking impact and emotional toll this had on the community in Cumbria, particularly in the run up to Christmas, Mrs Hayman suggested that farmers and landowners could again play an important role in future flood risk management. Previous activities by local farmers and residents to keep watercourses clear of excess gravel and rubble had largely ceased due to restrictions.

“We need to understand more about how we actually manage river management for the best of the community without then causing environmental damage,” said Mrs Hayman, indicating that the flood defences in place had not been designed to be resilient against an event like Storm Desmond.

“If we’re not careful, if farmers or riparian owners aren’t allowed to do something legitimately, they may well go in and do something anyway, and that may not be the best thing we need,” she added.

Noting the important role the Environment Agency, local councils and flood risk authorities such as Internal Drainage Boards (IDBs) have in co-ordinating community activities, the Shadow Minister also stated that a joined-up approach was required at all levels.

“What I think the challenge is, when the flood waters recede, and all the television crews disappear, how do we keep the issue of that kind of flooding at the top of, not just the news agenda, but the political agenda?” asked Mrs Hayman.

She highlighted the need for a cross-party approach to flooding, recognising the work of Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Environment, Thérèse Coffey MP, in engaging with local MPs and communities on flooding issues.

However, she raised concerns about the current funding formula for rural areas, like Cumbria, with sparse populations, but higher flood risk. “When you’re looking at asset damage and cost, you need to also consider how often it floods and how deep it floods,” she said, explaining this idea had been put forward in a proposal by six Cumbrian MPs to Ministers.

With opportunities for farmers and landowners to help manage natural disasters like flooding, Mrs Hayman concluded her address by saying, “If we’re genuinely going to manage flooding to the best we possibly can, then I genuinely believe we all need to work together.”


  Related Links
link Uplands Feel Impact of Poor Grouse Shooting Season
link Deosan Launch National Waste Plastic Collection Scheme
link Trees Can Help Mitigate Ammonia Emissions from Farming
link The Importance of a Healthy Farmed Environment