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NFU Comment Although every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, neither the NFU nor the author can accept liability for errors and or omissions. © NFU NFU South East/Arun Vision/Jan 2017 The voice of British farming Page 1 of 8 The Arun Vision Project – NFU Statement Introduction The National Farmers Union is an industry representative organisation aiming to safeguard the farming and growing business interests of our members and to promote conditions for the wider industry to retain a secure and competitive foothold in the UK and international economy. The NFU represents 47,000 farm businesses in England and Wales involving an estimated 155,000 farmers, managers and partners in the business: The large majority of commercial farm businesses in England. Our role in this project will be to facilitate our members and to enable their views as affected stakeholders to be taken into consideration. In this document we provide a brief overview of our national position on flood risk management and summarise some of the concerns of our members specific to the Arun catchment. Finally we also suggest points for consideration within the terms of reference for this project. National Position on FCERM The NFU Flooding Manifesto is due for publication on 26 th January 2017. This document sets out NFU national policy recommendations following the very large scale flooding events in 2013/14 and 2015. Our principle policy recommendations relate to: Planning Long-term planning: A long-term, strategic and planned approach is needed to manage flood and coastal risk in the future. Local decision making: Decisions should be made at a local level, where they will be better informed, and can ensure collaboration between all stakeholders. Catchment based decisions: Decisions should be made on a local, catchment basis, and funding should follow. These should be based on scientific knowledge and consider the increased frequency of extreme weather events. Protection Improved modelling: Systems for predicting flood events must be brought up to date Proper assessment of the value of agriculture: Investment should be based on the value of the assets protected. Crucially, they must include a proper assessment of the value of agricultural land to the nation, now and in the future, taking into consideration the multi-layered, locally dependent costs of flooding to agricultural land. Better communications: Systems for communicating with those affected must reach the most remote communities, providing sufficient time for response. Payment Sufficient and transparent funding: Flooding and water management in river and coastal areas must be properly funded to protect urban and rural businesses, infrastructure and communities. Government spending must be transparent, and the artificial distinction between capital and maintenance expenditure removed. Appropriate resourcing during maintenance withdrawal: The Environment Agency must be properly resourced to work with local groups during withdrawal of river maintenance. This may either be through the extension or establishment of new Internal Drainage Boards, other local solutions, including putting assets in good condition before they are handed over to others for future management. Natural Flood Management establishment: Where agricultural land is part of the solution to flooding as part of total catchment management, such as natural flood management or flood water storage, this must be planned, agreed and paid for.

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Page 1: NFU Comment

NFU Comment

Although every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, neither the NFU nor the author can accept liability for errors and or omissions. © NFU

NFU South East/Arun Vision/Jan 2017

The voice of British farming

Page 1 of 8

The Arun Vision Project – NFU Statement

Introduction The National Farmers Union is an industry representative organisation aiming to safeguard the farming and growing business interests of our members and to promote conditions for the wider industry to retain a secure and competitive foothold in the UK and international economy. The NFU represents 47,000 farm businesses in England and Wales involving an estimated 155,000 farmers, managers and partners in the business: The large majority of commercial farm businesses in England.

Our role in this project will be to facilitate our members and to enable their views as affected stakeholders to be taken into consideration. In this document we provide a brief overview of our national position on flood risk management and summarise some of the concerns of our members specific to the Arun catchment. Finally we also suggest points for consideration within the terms of reference for this project.

National Position on FCERM The NFU Flooding Manifesto is due for publication on 26th January 2017. This document sets out NFU national policy recommendations following the very large scale flooding events in 2013/14 and 2015. Our principle policy recommendations relate to:

Planning

Long-term planning: A long-term, strategic and planned approach is needed to manage flood and coastal risk in the future.

Local decision making: Decisions should be made at a local level, where they will be better informed, and can ensure collaboration between all stakeholders.

Catchment based decisions: Decisions should be made on a local, catchment basis, and funding should follow. These should be based on scientific knowledge and consider the increased frequency of extreme weather events.

Protection

Improved modelling: Systems for predicting flood events must be brought up to date

Proper assessment of the value of agriculture: Investment should be based on the value of the assets protected. Crucially, they must include a proper assessment of the value of agricultural land to the nation, now and in the future, taking into consideration the multi-layered, locally dependent costs of flooding to agricultural land.

Better communications: Systems for communicating with those affected must reach the most remote communities, providing sufficient time for response.

Payment

Sufficient and transparent funding: Flooding and water management in river and coastal areas must be properly funded to protect urban and rural businesses, infrastructure and communities. Government spending must be transparent, and the artificial distinction between capital and maintenance expenditure removed.

Appropriate resourcing during maintenance withdrawal: The Environment Agency must be properly resourced to work with local groups during withdrawal of river maintenance. This may either be through the extension or establishment of new Internal Drainage Boards, other local solutions, including putting assets in good condition before they are handed over to others for future management.

Natural Flood Management establishment: Where agricultural land is part of the solution to flooding as part of total catchment management, such as natural flood management or flood water storage, this must be planned, agreed and paid for.

Page 2: NFU Comment

NFU Comment

Although every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, neither the NFU nor the author can accept liability for errors and or omissions. © NFU

NFU South East/Arun Vision/Jan 2017

The voice of British farming

Page 2 of 8

The River Arun Middle Reaches Flood Relief Scheme 1963-68 In developing the current project it is important to be mindful of past interventions. The River Arun Middle Reaches Flood Relief Scheme was developed by predecessors of the Environment Agency, the West Sussex River Board (1948-1965) and the Sussex River Authority (1964-74).

Divided into three stages over 15 miles and extending from Arundel Bridge upstream to Stopham Bridge, the scheme was “aimed at reducing the incidence and duration of flooding on agricultural land, to reduce the low tide river levels in order to give improved drainage to the low lying Brooklands, and also to lower the average winter discharge level of the river to enable the more efficient functioning of the sluices discharging into the river”. In brief summary:

Stage 1 (1963-65) Dealt with a 5-mile length between Arundel and Houghton Bridge and cost £137,000. The works included construction of flood walls, 24” sluice and penstock (South Stoke loop) and steel sheet pile revetments (boat moorings and riverside amenity).

Stage 2 (1964-67) Dealt with a 4.5 mile length between Houghton and Greatham Bridges. The work consists mainly of widening and deepening the channel; raising and strengthening existing as well as constructing new embankments where none previously existed, using 206,000 cubic yards of spoil dredged from the river. Structural works completed included nine 36” diameter sluices. Total cost of £125,694.

Stage 3 (1967-68) Dealt with the 5 mile length between Greatham and Stopham Bridge. 270,000 cubic yards of spoil dredged and used in construction of embankments. Steel sheet pilling and reinforced concrete used in bank protection works. A new cut formed at Pulborough Railway Bridge where extra channel capacity was required. A new relief channel cut from the Railway Bridge to a point opposite the River Stor on the eastern boundary of Pulborough Brooks. Approximately 10 sluices were installed as well as a pumping station at Pulborough. The River stor widened and deepened from Wickford Bridge to the River Arun (approx. 1 mile). Total cost approximately £130,000.

During the 1978 public inquiry1 the Inspectors summarised the scheme as “increased channel capacity at Pulborough from 31.1 cubic metres per second to a design bankfull discharge of 102 cumecs. The additional capacity was provided by widening the channel and raising the embankments, such works were completed in 1968. Nonetheless, although that scheme reduced winter flooding to an appreciable extent, inundation of the flood plain during the winter period could and still does occur. Moreover weathering and natural compaction of the embankments has taken place so that overtopping at periods of high tide coupled with moderate to heavy rainfall had not been entirely prevented”.

This detail is important as it demonstrates that parts of the River Arun are heavily modified where the relevant statutory authority at the time entirely restructured over 15 miles of the river. This engineering scheme constructed a wholesale change of the river regime, which incurred the need for ongoing regular management. As shown in Appendix A, dredging of the Pulborough ‘New Cut’ was required just 5 years after construction due to excessive build-up of silt.

Since the scheme’s construction various competent authorities have assumed responsibility towards maintenance and by contrast individual landowners have been prevented from operating or maintaining various control structures. Whilst LTRAS now seeks to formally withdraw from maintenance responsibility, we do not believe it is a foregone conclusion that riparian ownership simply reverts to the nearest landowner without a formal consideration of who currently holds proprietary control and following this, whether a formal conveyancing procedure is required.

1 A Public Local Inquiry under the Land Drainage Act was undertaken during March and April 1978 concerning proposals by The Southern

Water Authority (SWA) for Drainage of Amberley Wild Brooks. SWA proposed to install a fully automated pumping plant, improve controls within the ditch system and install under drainage throughout the wildbrooks to increase agricultural productivity on approximately 1,000 acres. The application was refused at the Inquiry on the basis of the nature conservation interest of the site and as such represented a landmark case in a shift of national policy towards nature conservation and wildlife interests.

Page 3: NFU Comment

NFU Comment

Although every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, neither the NFU nor the author can accept liability for errors and or omissions. © NFU

NFU South East/Arun Vision/Jan 2017

The voice of British farming

Page 3 of 8

Winter 2013/14 Flood Event Without rehearsing a blow by blow account we believe it is important to reflect upon the effects of the 2013/14 flooding. On average 44.6 cm (17 ½”) of rainfall was recorded across the South East of England between December and February. This set new records for totals in the individual months and for the winter season as a whole; amounting to nearly 65% of the rainfall that would be expected to fall in an entire year.

The effects were keenly felt in the Arun catchment where, assisted by farmers living on higher ground; a number of properties were evacuated. Some farmers closer to the river were obliged to resort to canoes in order to feed their livestock. The effects of flooding were felt for several weeks and months following the event and we understand that the RSPB were unable to discharge floodwater trapped in Amberley Wildbrooks, thus leading to concerns over available habitat for ground nesting birds, as well as possible wetland habitat change as a result of the inundation.

Many felt that this was not a “perfect storm” and had there been a spring tide coinciding with the flood, this would have caused extensive damage. Our concern is that the loss of flood risk management services as represented by LTRAS also leaves those at risk at even more severe risk. We suggest that the Arun Vision project must set clear objectives so that any enhanced risk to life and livelihood can be mitigated in the event that LTRAS is implemented.

From: The costs and impacts of the winter 2013 to 2014 floods report www.gov.uk

Flood Risk The LTRAS consultation document predicts that there will be an additional 400 hectares of farmland at risk of flooding if the defences stop working over the next 100 years (i.e. at uplift from 2,550 hectares at risk in 2012 to a predicted 2,950 hectares in 2112).

This forecast is roughly commensurate with EA predictions concerning abolition of the IDD where approximately 180 hectares of arable farmland (approximately 15% of cropland within the IDB) will no longer be viable to produce crops within 20 years. A further 350 hectares of grassland (19% of grassland within the IDB) will no longer be viable as grassland, due to the near permanent levels of saturation potentially arising from a lack of management. These predictions evidently represent a reduction in the capital value of land within the catchment, due to the combined effects of LTRAS and IDB abolition.

We note also that the LTRAS consultation document forecasts an increase of flooding to an additional 309 residential properties within the next 100 years over and above the 369 already at risk if the current defences

Page 4: NFU Comment

NFU Comment

Although every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, neither the NFU nor the author can accept liability for errors and or omissions. © NFU

NFU South East/Arun Vision/Jan 2017

The voice of British farming

Page 4 of 8

stop working, with much of this due to an increase in housing numbers in Arundel. Equally there will be a further 155 commercial properties at risk over and above the 71 already at risk, with SU4 (Houghton to Arundel) worst affected.

There will be an ongoing need to protect these properties and farmland from flooding or to adapt to new scenarios as and when the modelling study for SU3 is completed. Our aspiration is that the work of the Arun Vision Project will clearly identify and secure funding for the management of these risks in perpetuity.

Wider Context NFU Members have raised concerns that the current focus of LTRAS does not recognise the wider context and the very large numbers of upstream beneficiaries that depend upon the River Arun.

The river receives water draining from as far afield as Crawley, Horsham, Haslemere, Midhurst and Petersfield. More than 460,000 people live in the catchment2, which is over half the population of West Sussex and this figure is forecast to grow. Within Horsham District alone the Local Plan forecasts delivery of a further 10,000 homes within the next 15 years. All of these residents require clean water supplied to their houses, sewage taken away and their properties protecting from flooding.

According to the South East Flood Risk Management Plan3 there are approximately 30,000 people living in the Arun and Western Streams catchment that are at risk of flooding. In defending those people we foresee that downstream risks to farmland, properties and wildlife conservation interests within the LTRAS area could also be exacerbated.

Riparian Owner Responsibility As set out in the EA Living on the Edge document4, a main river riparian landowner is required to:

“Let water flow through your land without any obstruction, pollution or diversion which affects the rights of others…

Keep the banks clear of anything that could cause an obstruction and increase flood risk, either on your land or downstream if it is washed away. You are responsible for maintaining the bed and banks of the watercourse and the trees and shrubs growing on the banks. You should also clear any litter and animal carcasses from the channel and banks, even if they did not come from your land…. and

Keep any structures, such as culverts, trash screens, weirs and mill gates, clear of debris.”

Our concern is that in applying a simplistic notion of riparian ownership we risk discriminating against a relatively small number of landowners who are then obliged to undertake river maintenance at their own cost. To give a rough estimate within the River Arun IDD, which largely coincides with the LTRAS project area, there are approximately 150 agricultural ratepayers, holding on average approximately 30 acres each. Of these only a small proportion will occupy land that is immediately adjacent to the Main River. It is therefore likely that only a few tens of landowners will end up holding responsibility to deliver main river maintenance on behalf of nearly half a million upstream beneficiaries. We believe this is unfair and should not be the default outcome of the LTRAS process.

The situation in the LTRAS project area is further complicated in reflection of the fact that a single estate is known to own most of the river bed. We have also raised the question as to whether the EA holds proprietary control over the River Arun Middle Reaches Scheme. Our concern is that the question of riparian ownership is not as straightforward as simply looking for the nearest farmer. We believe it may be necessary as part of the Arun Vision Project to clarify the extent and agency of riparian ownership.

Instead of placing the burden on a handful of riparian owners there are other ways in which the costs of management can be shared. These approaches should be fully explored within the Arun Vision Project.

2 From http://arunwesternstreams.org.uk/

3 https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/507136/LIT_10222_SOUTH_EAST_FRMP_PART_B.pdf

4 https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/454562/LIT_7114.pdf

Page 5: NFU Comment

NFU Comment

Although every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, neither the NFU nor the author can accept liability for errors and or omissions. © NFU

NFU South East/Arun Vision/Jan 2017

The voice of British farming

Page 5 of 8

Summary Points of Concern In summary our main concerns focus on:

Health and Safety;

Riparian ownership with particular regard to the River Arun Middle Reaches Scheme as well as the assets of the IDB; and

The balance of fairness in responsibility for watercourse maintenance.

We believe there are a number of key questions requiring further scrutiny as part of the Arun Vision project:

1. As the developer of a constructed engineering scheme, we would like clarification that the EA does not hold proprietary responsibility for the River Arun Middle Reaches Scheme as a riparian owner.

2. We note that the report for the Public Inquiry makes reference to a plan of river maintenance commitments, with the implication that landowners have for several decades felt assured that a statutory authority holds responsibility for ensuring the upkeep of this scheme. On this basis many have made long term planning and investment decisions. The implementation of LTRAS would therefore put them at a disadvantage but there is as yet no firm commitment over how the responsible authority plans to mitigate for this loss.

3. We seek clarification on the extent to which the withdrawal of operating the River Arun Middle Reaches Scheme amounts to an alteration or removal of works as specified and/or whether LTRAS is infact an active programme of river naturalisation.

4. We feel that it is unfair to compel a small number of individuals to support the costs of river maintenance benefit tens of thousands of people within the catchment. The Arun Vision Project must therefore look to identify and deliver a way of sharing the cost of these liabilities more equitably amongst those who benefit.

5. We feel that the Arun Vision Project needs to give careful consideration to the health and safety risks of exposure to extreme flooding. What are the response mechanisms available at times of crisis? How will affected homes and businesses be assisted in making their assets more resilient to flooding?

Terms of Reference For the purposes of discussion we also suggest the following points for consideration within the terms of reference:

An initial project objective should be to develop a statement of shared ambition amongst affected stakeholders and members of the Arun Vision Project group.

The project will need to clearly understand the assumptions of the predictive modelling used by the EA in drawing their conclusions.

The project should identify objectives that recognise the need for equitable sharing of risks and liabilities; and also recognises the value of place, community and the rural economy that underpins the need for effective flood risk management.

The project should seek to find a means of securing revenue budgets for management activities in perpetuity. This is not limited to conventional watercourse management but also encompasses the need to secure ongoing conservation management for the designated wildlife sites as well as adaptive management due to climate change where this is necessary.

The process should be managed by an impartial and independent body and an independent chair should be appointed.

Representations made in developing the ‘Vision’ should be gathered from a well-balanced representative group of stakeholders. The composition of the panel involved in developing the vision should accurately reflect the balance of interests in the catchment.

Page 6: NFU Comment

NFU Comment

Although every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, neither the NFU nor the author can accept liability for errors and or omissions. © NFU

NFU South East/Arun Vision/Jan 2017

The voice of British farming

Page 6 of 8

The scope of the Vision should include consideration of the business interests at risk as well as the people and property at risk from flooding. The process should consider how all of those relevant stakeholders should contribute to the long term vision of the Valley.

The scope should enable provision for the long term delivery of management of designated wildlife sites and other valued environmental receptors.

There should be an assessment of viable business opportunities that will help deliver the long term vision. Such ventures may include encouraging navigation and tourism; or establishing a management company that can continue to deliver management in perpetuity.

Funding and investment for delivering the vision should be assured and clearly deliverable as part of the Vision making process.

Prepared by: Tom Ormesher Environment and Land Use Adviser NFU South East [email protected]

Page 7: NFU Comment

NFU Comment

Although every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, neither the NFU nor the author can accept liability for errors and or omissions. © NFU

NFU South East/Arun Vision/Jan 2017

The voice of British farming

Page 7 of 8

Appendix A

Page 8: NFU Comment

NFU Comment

Although every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, neither the NFU nor the author can accept liability for errors and or omissions. © NFU

NFU South East/Arun Vision/Jan 2017

The voice of British farming

Page 8 of 8