Visits, Learning & Networks

Visits, Learning & Networks

Members of Stour (Kent) IDB, EA and ADA visiting a watercourse scheduled for de-maining

With longer light and warmer days ( hopefully ), June and July are traditionally the months that many of us get out and about to visit, look and learn about the work being done across our catchments and this year is no exception. I have had a wonderfully interesting month already covering the length and breadth of the country to see and share some great work going on to manage drainage, water levels and flood risks. Without exception, that work has been going on with a variety of partners involved delivering not only the basic benefits asked for, but a much wider view on the social, environmental and economic benefits linked to what they are doing.

Earlier this month, I visited the Lower Severn IDB accompanied by Catherine Wright and Anthony Perry and we enjoyed a very positive insight into their plans to upgrade the IDB pumps to an eel-friendly status, close working relations with developers and planners to provide and manage sustainable drainage as part of industrial development at Severn Beach and the demonstration that both the Council and Landowners/Farmers work well together through good collective governance of the IDB.

Our ADA Branches have been active too and Northern & Trent Branches have held meetings this month. I was delighted to see a good cross section of members taking part and especially the support for the meetings received from the EA and Local Council members. We really are starting to show a true spirit of local co-operation and working together. The important bit is ensuring that we deliver work and explain more widely to local communities what the benefit of that work is.

I also welcomed the opportunity to pay a visit to one of our National Agency members, the Department of Infrastructure in Northern Ireland, and spent a very productive day with Linda MacHugh, David Porter and colleagues. An afternoon visit to the Connswater River Corridor Project in East Belfast was an uplifting highlight, not only for the technical work put into re-engineering a high-risk watercourse into a much lower risk flood protection scheme, but also the social and environmental transformation of a neglected river and community. If you get the chance to visit ( a must if you are Van Morrison fans ), take a walk or cycle on part or all of the 11km trail so wonderfully developed and see for yourselves the much wider benefits it has brought to the adjacent communities.

This week has seemed even busier with visits to Stour IDB in Kent, Middle Level Commissioners and Welland & Deepings IDB both in the Fens. Again, all three visits showed great examples of what can be achieved by working with others, creating a better environment and providing public benefit by managing our watercourses wisely through invaluable local knowledge. All three visits also highlighted the fantastic amount of voluntary service provided by Board Members in the role that they play and these visits form a small but hugely important token of thanks to our volunteers.

We are still not so good at telling the general public about what you all do and I will try to help do more of that through ADA’s activities. I do need your help too, to promote your local activities in whatever way is most appropriate, and especially to our younger generation so that they understand the vital importance of drainage, water level and flood risk management. If you have not done so already, a good starting point for this communication is via your local MP so please make sure that he or she knows about ADA’s 7-point plan from our website.

July is knocking on the door and my diary is looking equally as full as it was in June. I enormously appreciate all the good work being done across the country and, as our new Secretary of State settles into his role and Thérèse Coffey retakes her Ministerial seat, rest assured that ADA will be working very closely with Defra and other departments to represent your best interests.