To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to facilitate communities wishing to take over the maintenance and running of flood defence systems in areas where the Environment Agency is withdrawing; and if she will permit the funding of a local authority special levy for new internal drainage boards (IDBs) on the same basis on which her Department funds those authorities within the boundaries of existing IDBs.
17 December 2014
It is important that the Environment Agency is able to focus its efforts and resources in those areas where the risk of flooding to communities, businesses and property are greatest.
In the areas where the Evironment Agency is withdrawing from land drainage activities, the Agency is committed to working closely with landowners, farmers, householders and businesses to help them consider the options available to them for taking over the maintenance activities.
We feel that, in these areas, responsibility for local watercourse management sits more appropriately with expert local bodies, including local authorities and IDBs as well as riparian owners, since these bodies are best placed to take decisions on local priorities in discussion with their communities.
We are keen to enable these bodies, and individuals, to act effectively in partnerships at a local level to achieve the outcomes that communities want to see. We are engaged in a range of actions to make it easier for farmers and landowners who wish to undertake their own de-silting and channel maintenance activities. We also very much welcome the establishment of IDBs where these are proposed and supported by the local community.
We recognise the challenges associated with raising funds for flood risk locally, including for the establishment of new IDBs, and are continuing to explore options in this area together with the Department for Communities and Local Government