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Flood Defence Policy Statement


Section 1 - Introduction

In 1993 the Government published a Strategy for Flood and Coastal Defence in England and Wales. The aim of the Strategy 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.

The objectives of the Strategy are:

To encourage the provision of adequate and cost effective flood warning systems.

To encourage the provision of adequate, economically, technically and environmentally sound and sustainable flood and coastal defence measures.

To discourage inappropriate development in areas at risk from flooding and coastal erosion.

In 1999 the Government published High Level Targets for Flood and Coastal Defence to ensure more certain delivery of the Strategy aims and objectives. Target 1 requires that the Board produce a policy statement setting out how it will fulfil its role as part of the Strategy. This Policy Statement is the Board's response to that requirement.

This statement was approved by the Board on 7th December 2005 and will take effect from 1st January 2006. It replaces an earlier statement approved in 2001. This statement will be reviewed within 5 years of if any circumstances change that significantly effect its content.

Copies of this Policy Statement are available at the Board's Offices, 47 Norfolk Street, Boston, Lincolnshire PE21 6PP. Copies have been made available to the Environment Agency (EA), Department of Environment Fisheries and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Lincolnshire County Council, East Lindsey District Council and the Boston Borough Council.

Section 2 - The Witham Fourth District Internal Drainage Board

The Board's area of authority ("District") covers approximately 40,830 hectares bounded by the River Witham (EA main river) to the south west, the foot of the Wolds from Coningsby to Halton Holgate to the north, plus the Steeping River (EA main river) to Wainfleet on the north east, and by the Wash to the south east.

The Board has a duty to exercise general supervision over all matters relating to the drainage of land within its District and has power to carry out work on watercourses within that District. As such the Board has designated certain watercourses in the District upon which to carry out regular maintenance and does so under statutory powers. The total length of those watercourses is approximately 702 km.

In addition the Board operates and maintains a number of pumping stations (7 No.) and other structures within its District to provide an adequate level of drainage and flood protection.

The Board's watercourses have been designed to provide a freeboard of 0.6m above the water level of a 1in 10 year flood event to the lowest general land levels in the District (as far as is practicable without excessive freeboards elsewhere). The system provides an overall level of protection of around 1 in 50 years.

Section 3 - Management of Risk

The Board monitors the condition of all watercourses and assets under its control or maintained by the Board under statutory powers.

Annual maintenance regimes have been established that ensure that the level of protection offered by the system (see Section 2.4) is maintained where possible.

Where the level of protection falls below that which is expected improvement works are undertaken where they are sustainable and are economically, technically and environmentally sound.

In order to manage the risk the Board will use maintenance and capital works practices that have proven both effective and sustainable in the past whilst also employing new practices that can be shown to offer similar benefits in the future.

As part of its ongoing partnership with other operating authorities and relevant bodies the Board will endeavour to ensure that best practice is adopted and shared.

In adopting a strategic approach to defence provision the Board will direct its resources to those areas where it is considered there is the most need and where works can be shown to give benefits not just in the short term but also over the long term to improve the social, economic and natural environment.

The Board's annual maintenance and expenditure programme for the year commencing 1st April is available for inspection at the Board's Offices from 1st March in any year.

Where an ordinary watercourse not maintained by the Board is shown to provide an unacceptable level of defence the owners will be informed of their responsibilities and where possible, advised of what necessary remedial action needs to be taken. Verbal and written notification will, if necessary, be followed by statutory enforcement (under powers granted by the Land Drainage Act 1991).

Responsibility has been transferred to the EA for Board's watercourses identified (using criteria specified by the EA and DEFRA) as being the most critical for the protection of people and property.

The Board will work in partnership with the EA and other stakeholders to develop long term flood defence strategies for the area.

Section 4 - Flood Warning and Emergency Planning

In the Board's District the EA provide and operate flood warning systems. The Police are responsible for co-ordinating the emergency service. Local authorities are responsible for the co-ordinating emergency plans of local bodies involved in emergency response.

The Board will continue to work in partnership with other authorities in Lincolnshire and assist in emergency planning exercises to improve and develop the Local Flood Warning Plan (as issued by the EA).

Section 5 - Environmental Obligations and Biodiversity

Whilst the Board's priority is drainage and flood defence it recognises the need to protect the environment from un-necessary damage and to enhance habitats where appropriate.

The Board supports the Lincolnshire Bio-Diversity Action Plan and will work with other bodies to achieve the targets set out in the plan.

The Board will co-operate with the EA and English Nature in order to fulfil statutory environmental obligations.

The Board will operate environmentally sensitive systems of work and water level management where appropriate and viable to the efficient working of the system.

Section 6 - Development Planning and Funding of Associated Works

The Board will advise developers and local planning authorities regarding applications for development within the District. It will oppose any development that is at risk from, or has the potential to increase the risk of, flooding in the District unless economically, technically and environmentally sound sustainable measures can be taken to remove that risk or reduce it to an acceptable level.

The Board will not give guidance on the risk of flooding from main rivers and coastal defences.

The Board will work with local planning authorities in the preparation of Local Development Plans or other plans as and when requested.

Development contributions will be obtained where the improvement of the Board's existing system is required. Where additional new works are required the developers will be expected to meet the cost in full.