Downham Market Group of Internal Drainage Boards
The Drainage Office | Main Street | Prickwillow | Ely | Cambs CB7 4UN
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  Southery & District Internal Drainage Board




1.1 This policy statement has been prepared by Southery & District Internal Drainage Board to provide a public statement of the Board's approach to its management of flood risk and water levels in its area.


1.2 The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has policy responsibility for flood and coastal defence in England. However, delivery is the responsibility of a number of flood and coastal defence "operating authorities" which include the Southery & District Internal Drainage Board.

1.3 The Government has published a policy aim and three objectives for flood and coastal defence (1). To ensure a more certain delivery of the aim and objectives by the individual operating authorities the Government has published a series of high level targets (2). The first target requires each operating authority to publish a policy statement setting out their plans for delivering the Government's policy aim and objectives in their area. This will include an assessment of the risk of flooding and coastal erosion in their area, and what plans they have to reduce that risk.

1.4 This policy statement fulfils that requirement. Copies are available from the Board's offices at The Drainage Office, Main Street, Prickwillow, Ely, Cambridgeshire, CB7 4UN. Copies are also being provided to DEFRA and to the Environment Agency and local authorities.

1.5 The Government's policy aim is:
To reduce the risk to people and the developed and natural environment from flooding and coastal erosion by encouraging the provision of technically, environmentally and economically sound and sustainable defence measures.

1.6 The key objectives to achieve this aim are:-
(a) To encourage the provision of adequate, economically, technically and environmentally sound and sustainable flood and coastal defence measures.
(b) To discourage inappropriate development in areas of risk from flooding.
(c) To encourage the provision of adequate and cost effective flood warning systems.


2.1 The Board supports the Government aim and objectives for the management of flood risk and water levels. Its policy and approach will be consistent with them as follows:-

2.2 Objective (a): To encourage the provision of adequate economically, technically and environmentally sound and sustainable flood defence measures, the Board will:-

i) seek to retain this risk at acceptable levels through appropriate improvements and the implementation of a sound maintenance strategy. It will also seek to ensure that the Environment Agency's flood defences, which also afford protection to the district, are maintained at a satisfactory standard.

ii) carry out work in accordance with best practice and to deliver best value for money taking due regard of guidance available from DEFRA, the Environment Agency and other organisations.

iii) regulate as necessary, using the powers available, the actions of others to ensure that their works do not increase the risk of flooding.

iv) ensure that riparian owners are aware of their responsibilities for maintenance.

v) play a positive role in fulfilling our statutory and other responsibilities for nature conservation, including achievement of the government's environmental objections and targets. It acknowledges its responsibilities under the Land Drainage Acts of 1991 and 1994, The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, the European Birds and Habitats Directives and the Conservation (Natural Habitats & C) Regulations 1994.

vi) when carrying out works, seek to avoid wherever possible damage to environmental interests and aim to ensure no net loss to habitats covered by the Biodiversity Action Plans and seek opportunities to enhance the aquatic environment.

vii)ensure that for those Water Level Management Plans, where it is the leading operating authority, work in partnership with English Nature to complete, implement where appropriate, and review Plans in accordance with DEFRA guidance on Plan completion and the timetables set out in the High Level Targets.

viii)co-operate with other bodies and make input to the development of Shoreline Management Plans, Coastal Habitat Plans and the local Environment Agency Plans.

2.3 Objective (b): To discourage inappropriate development in areas at risk from flooding and coastal erosion.

  the Board will fully recognise the potential impact on flood risk through future development in the drainage District, or in the wider catchment draining to the District, and will take an active role in the assessment of structure planning, local plans and individual applications to ensure flood risk is not increased.
Where appropriate the Board will secure from Developers contributions to cover the cost of both immediate and longer term works necessary in ensuring that any potential increase in flood risk can be removed.

2.4 Objective (c): To encourage the provision of adequate and cost effective flood warning systems,

  the Board will assist the Environment Agency wherever possible in its provision of adequate and cost effective flood warning systems, co-operate with the Agency in responses to flood emergencies and participating as necessary in exercises to develop and test emergency response procedures, reviewing such arrangements every two years.


3.1 As mentioned in Section 2, the entire drainage district is at some risk to flooding. That risk is substantially controlled but some variation in the standards of protection will apply. The following are the key details of the District:

Catchment Area draining to and including the District 12,347 ha
Total Area of the District 9,924 ha
Area of Agricultural Land 9,797 ha
Area of Residential Property 54 ha
Area of Industrial Property41 ha
Other non agricultural (subject to Special Levy i.e. roads)12 ha
Droves, Drains etc.20 ha
Sites of Environmental Interest:-
Wetlands SSSI
Nature Reserve
0 ha
0 ha

3.2 The Board has provided the Environment Agency with information on the major flood defence assets for which the Board is responsible. The information is available from the Environment Agency at Bromholme Lane, Brampton, Huntingdon, Cambs., PE18 8NE.

3.3 Assets for which the Board has operating authority responsibility

Pumping Stations6 No, Southery, New Fen, Hilgay, Catsholme, Feltwell, Oulsham
Other Water level Control Structures45 No, Weirs within Drainage System
Watercourses 145Km Arterial System of Main Drains
Critical watercourses* None
Raised Embankments None

* Critical watercourses are those from which overspilling will put at risk of flooding a significant number of people and properties. The above have been agreed with the Environment Agency against clear criteria.

3.4 Passing through or adjacent to the District are the following assets maintained by the Environment Agency.

Main Rivers 43.2km - Rivers Great Ouse (Ely), Little Ouse, Wissey and Cut-off Channel
River Raised Embankments 43.2km - Banks of Rivers Great Ouse, Little Ouse, Wissey
Coastal Flood DefencesNone


3.6 The Board's assessment of Flood Risk from the watercourses shown above, taking into account the following:-

i) Assets in place considering design standard and life.
ii) Environment Agency flood risk maps.
iii) Other information such as the history of flooding and land use impacts.

is that the Flood Risk is low provided adequate maintenance is carried out.

In view of this, these watercourses do not meet the criteria for enmainment by the Environment Agency.

3.7 In the Board's view, all the District is vulnerable if extreme circumstances occur, with no one particular area more vulnerable than another.

The Board is satisfied that there are minimal risks to human life arising from any failure in its assets or overspilling from its watercourses.

3.8 Through the operation and maintenance of the pumping stations and channel system the Board seek to maintain a general standard capable of providing flood protection to agricultural land and developed areas of 1 in 20 and 1 in 100 years respectively. This likely return period cannot be taken literally and should be considered as a chance of some overspilling from the system taking place each year as being 5% and 1% respectively.

3.9 Reduction and Management of these Flood Risks
The Board monitor the condition of its pumping stations and watercourses on a regular basis. Consistent with the established needs, a routine maintenance programme is in place to ensure that the condition of the assets is commensurate with the standards of protection which are sought.Where standards are not at the policy level, improvement works will be considered and undertaken as appropriate, where they can be demonstrated to meet with DEFRA criteria.
The Board welcome from its agricultural ratepayers, the Borough Council and members of the public any comments on the condition of its system which could lead to any increased flood risk.

3.10 The Board will seek to promote the need for works in its District and create an understanding among people who live and work in it as to what the flood risk is and the efforts made to control it. It will also seek to achieve directly and through local councils a culture within which the watercourses are seen as vital to controlling flood risk, whilst providing an interesting aquatic habit and dissuade abuse of them through dumping waste or obstructing flows in other ways.

Southery & District Internal Drainage Board will review this Policy Statement within a period not extending beyond 3 years.

1) Strategy for Flood and Coastal Defence in England and Wales MAFF and Welsh Office, September 1993.
2) High Level Targets for Flood and Coastal Defence Operating Authorities and Elaboration of the Environment Agency's Flood Defence Supervisory Duty MAFF, November 1999.

Chairman of the Board

General Manager

16th October 2018

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