The new Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) was officially launched over the weekend – with doubly good news as the work of the Flood Action Plan, for which it is now responsible, has received a three quarters of a million pound funding boost.
The SRA’s set up, start date and interim funding for the coming financial year was recently agreed between the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), Somerset’s five local authorities and the Somerset Consortium of Drainage Boards.
The new SRA will help identify what is needed, and fund and deliver a higher standard of flood protection in Somerset than is currently provided, as well as ensure the large number of separate flood risk management authorities in the county work together through a combined program.
During its first year the SRA’s work will involve:
- Co-ordinating partners’ current work and developing efficiencies wherever possible for joint delivery during 2015/16 in what is known as a Common Works Program;
- All Somerset’s Flood Risk Management Authorities coming together for the first time to plan their future joint work program for 2016/17;
- Undertaking a new Enhanced Maintenance Program for 2015/16 for flood risk management activity across all districts in Somerset – including maintaining the 2014 dredge on the Parrett and Tone;
- Carrying on the work of the 20 Year Flood Action Plan;
- Developing a long term funding solution.
Councillor John Osman, Chairman of the Flood Action Plan Leaders Implementation Group and Leader of Somerset County Council, said: “Establishing the Somerset Rivers Authority was one of the key Actions of the 20 Year Flood Action Plan, set up at the Government’s request to reduce the severity, duration and frequency of flooding like that experienced in 2013/14.
Now the SRA will play a vital role in delivering higher standards of flood protection than would be funded nationally, as well as providing better flood protection and stronger resilience against further flooding.