Somerset County Council Leader John Osman was elected chairman of the Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) Board at its first meeting that was held on Friday, 27 February.
Cllr Osman, who has been Chair of the Flood Action Plan Leaders Implementation Group, was elected by fellow board members and Tony Bradford, Vice Chair of the Parrett Internal Drainage Board and chair of the South West Association of Drainage Authorities (SWADA), was elected to be the Vice Chair.
Members of the public, including represent from FLAG, attended the meeting which also saw the board formally adopt the new SRA constitution.
The SRA will help shape flood management in the County. It will help identify work and fund and deliver a higher standard of flood protection in Somerset. It will also ensure the large number of separate flood risk management authorities in the county work together through a combined program. The work of the Somerset Levels and Moors Flood Action Plan will carry on as part of the SRA.
The meeting discussed and confirmed the program of work for the coming year which includes developing a long-term funding mechanism, development of a common works program (which joins up existing work more efficiently) and delivery of enhanced maintenance.
Enhanced maintenance includes new dredging, maintaining newly dredged sections, extra vegetation cutting and de-silting and addressing localized flooding issues in the wider catchment. There will also be work to ensure that landowners fulfill their own maintenance responsibilities. This is the additional work that would not be funded nationally but is required locally.
It also agreed allocation of the SRA’s first year budget of £2.7m – £2.25m on the enhanced maintenance program and £450k on developing the SRA, including establishing sustainable funding, developing common works program, managing the Flood Action Plan, and public engagement.