To receive presentations by flood risk management agencies (Cheshire East Highways, Cheshire Fire Authority, United Utilities, Environment Agency).
Committee Members received presentations on flood risk management functions from key colleagues representing Cheshire East Highways (LLFA), Ringway Jacobs, Cheshire Fire Authority, United Utilities and the Environment Agency. Representatives updated Committee Members on the role of their organisations in the event of flooding, how they communicated and worked with partners and what needed to be improved in the future.
The Committee and representatives in attendance agreed that the responsibility to manage flood risk was shared and that whilst there had been clear progress made in improving communication between all agencies, this needed to be developed upon even further in the future to ensure effective collaborative working. It was highlighted that the key priority for all agencies was to identify opportunities to demonstrate joined up working, educating residents on flood risk and jointly seeking further funding opportunities for flood risk management.
Key comments noted:
- It was noted that the Cheshire East budget for flood risk management, from 1 April 2023, would be separated from highway drainage. Committee Members requested that further detailed information on this budget (and the % allocated to LLFA) was shared with Committee Members. Mike Barnett committed to providing a written response.
- Committee Members requested further information on the number of local schemes for mitigating food risk that were completed/outstanding for 22-23 and also an indication of the number of schemes planned for 23-24. Mike Barnett committed to providing a written response.
- Committee Members raised concerns relating to the number of planning applications being approved for new homes to be built on floodplains across the Borough. It was requested that the updated Local Flood Risk Management Strategy took these important issues into consideration.
- Committee Members referred to the £1.5m unclaimed funding for flooding. It was confirmed that this related to the Flood Defence Grant and in order for the funding to be secured, a detailed business case needed to be submitted to the Environment Agency demonstrating a reduction in flood risk. It was noted that due to the nature of the flooding in Cheshire and the number of properties affected, it was difficult to meet the requirements of the business case. Cheshire East Highways committed to working in partnership with the Environment Agency in readiness for the new 6-year cycle of funding to move as many schemes forward as possible.
- Mike Barnett committed to investigating the flooding concerns raised by Cllr Edwardes in relation to Manchester Road, Congleton prior to the implementation of any new Active Travel Scheme.
- Members were informed that the ‘Fix My Street’ reporting tool should be used to report any flash flooding incidents. It was highlighted that the logging and recording of such incidents would help to build a better understanding of the drainage network in Cheshire East and help to inform decision-making.
- Committee Members queried the location of the Swift Water Rescue (SWR) vehicles and noted that none of these were based in Cheshire East. It was confirmed that the location of SWR vehicles was based upon risk. However this was under continual review as the number of severe weather events was increasing as a result of climate change. It was highlighted that SWR responded to fast moving water incidents and that the majority of water incidents in Cheshire East were still. Capability across the Cheshire Fire Authority had been increased and all firefighters had now been trained and equipped to enter water with the correct PPE.
- Committee Members requested more detailed and localised information in relation to Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) in Cheshire East (incidents/plans to remove). Cllr Anderson referred to a particular issue in Wilmslow and requested that where there were issues in the future, United Utilities informed local ward Members. Committee Members also requested reassurance from United Utilities that they were also seeking opportunities for increased funding for flood risk management in Cheshire East.
- Cllr D Murphy suggested that the Environment Agency attend a Congleton Environment and Communities Committee in the future. David Brown (Environment Agency) agreed to attend.
(1) That the presentations and updates provided be noted.
(2) Representatives from all agencies to be invited to return to provide a further update on Flood Risk Management in March 2024.