Monday, 24 January 2011

Goalposts moved above the floodline

Update from NCC councillor to Town Council

"It was confirmed at the Northumbria Regional Flood Defence Committee that the Morpeth scheme has not scored sufficient points on the Outcome Measures to be included in 11/12 allocation DEFRA's budgetary landscape has changed to the extent that the OM required score of 5 (which Morpeth scheme comfortably achieved) to 14.
This could hardly be more disappointing, especially coming on the back of over 2 years-worth of reassurances.

"The whole committee and officers were devastated and there is a clear determination to progress a suitable scheme for Morpeth.

" The responsibilities and funding landscape around flooding is also in the throes of change. The new Floods & Water Management Act allocates responsiblity to local authorities (NCC) to lead on flood-related matters ('Lead Local Flood Authorities') but with EA retaining responsibility for coast and main watercourses. It also proposes changing the way funding is allocated with fewer schemes receiving full-cost funding and most will be dependent on local discretion - the replacement for the NRFDC (Regional Flood & Coastal Committee) will have more responsibilities and enhanced decision-making (which at the moment is largely restricted, in practice, to allocation of the local levy-funded - relatively small - schemes).

" How this will play out in practice is unknown, but we should share the EA's determination to see this interregnum and the new system as an opportunity."

Not good news then - and it also leaves the Dransfield foodstore application with two dilemmas i) is it really safe without the promise of comprehensive flood defences and ii) their 'community obligation' was to build the flood defences (bund) along the river edge of their site - will that still hold?

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