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Friday, April 19, 2024
The Parrett Catchment Project
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NEW May 2008: A new era in the management of Somerset’s three main river systems has been launched with the creation of the Somerset Water Management Partnership.

Replacing its predecessors the Parrett Catchment Project and Levels and Moors Partnership, the new body is made up of 14 partners and co-ordinated by Somerset County Council. It will be involved in tackling all water issues affecting the county’s three main river catchments – the Parrett, Axe and Brue. With climate change presenting unprecedented challenges, the partnership will look at all issues impacting on the communities, landscapes, economies and ecologies of the three rivers.

The Somerset Water Management Partnership will build on the success of the Parrett Catchment Project set up in 2000 in response to prolonged flooding that affected much of Somerset. Over the past seven years the project has worked with farmers to improve land management practices and plant woodland which has stabilised soils and slowed flood flows. Flood retention schemes have also been built on farmland and much work has been done to raise awareness of water issues through roadshows, campaigns, grant schemes and the annual River festival.

The new Partnership provides a forum in which consultation can take place, debate issues and test whether a consensus can be achieved and if so to then communicate it. The primary purpose will be to act as a community of interest on water management issues within the catchment areas of the Axe, Brue and Parrett. Its purpose is to inform and consult the partner organisations and communities, and by agreement others. It therefore provides an opportunity for a group of stakeholders to meet together to consider water matters of significance affecting, or with the potential to affect, the communities, landscape, economy and ecology in the catchment areas of the Parrett, Brue, Axe and their tributaries.

The partnership was officially launched in April 2007, and named the Somerset Water Management Partnership (SWMP). The full membership of the partnership is: Somerset County Council, Environment Agency, Taunton Deane District Council, Sedgemoor District Council, South Somerset District Council, National Farmers Union, Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group, Somerset Wildlife Trust, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Somerset Consortium of Drainage Boards, South West Association of Drainage Authorities, Somerset Waterways Development Trust, Wessex Water and Natural England.

The process to engage Parish Councils is currently being actively facilitated. A mini-workshop was held in late October 2007 with Parishes that had expressed an interest in being involved with the SWMP (directly or indirectly), to explore and determine how Parishes can engage with the SWMP. In February 2008 these 36 parishes were again invited to attend a meeting, held in Glastonbury, to identify which individuals may be interested in acting as parish representatives at SWMP meetings. A number of individuals, representing the catchments of the Brue, Axe, Parrett, and Tone, volunteered to act as Parish ‘representatives’, attending SWMP meetings and reporting back to local Parish Councils.

A recent study commissioned by the Environment Agency identified 7 areas with numerous water quality / quantity issues in Somerset. These areas were targeted for community outreach education by first evaluating which parishes considered water issues in these areas a main concern to them. Following this period of communication a decision was made to concentrate on the River Isle and the 5 parishes within its catchment area, to trial a series of information / discussion events. An open meeting was held in December 2007 to invite members of the local community to raise their water issues of concern, and to hear a series of informative presentations from guest speakers. The outcomes of this meeting were evaluated and two further meetings were held in March 2008 focusing on the community’s issues of water quality (invited speakers from EA and Wessex Water) and flooding (invited speakers from EA and SCC Civil Contingencies Unit).

Meetings of the SWMP are held approximately every two months, and from June 2008 these are open to members of the public to attend.

The next scheduled meeting is:

Tuesday 28th April 2-4.30pm 

Great Bow Wharf, Bow Street, Langport, Somerset TA10 9PN

(Public may attend as observers)

 

Minutes of previous meeting


For further information contact Steve Dury (01823 355170) or Rebecca Seaman (01823 355281)

 


 

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Awards & PCP Cited

 

The Flooded Forest: Guidance for policy makers and river managers in Europe of the restoration of floodplain forests


'Think catchment, think long-term, think cooperation' is the message from the latest document from FLOBAR (FLOodplain Biodiversity And Restoration) and the PCP is cited as 'a good example of a multipurpose, catchment-orientated project'. A well illustrated report with photographs and figures, it explains how floodplain forests work, what the principle threats are to these ecosystems, ways of restoring them and the policy and institutional contexts within which their restoration might take place. To download a copy visit the website:

'Think catchment, think long-term, think cooperation' is the message from the latest document from FLOBAR (FLOodplain Biodiversity And Restoration) and the PCP is cited as 'a good example of a multipurpose, catchment-orientated project'. A well illustrated report with photographs and figures, it explains how floodplain forests work, what the principle threats are to these ecosystems, ways of restoring them and the policy and institutional contexts within which their restoration might take place. To download a copy visit the website:

http://www-flobar.geog.cam.ac.uk/reports/final/ or email Dr. Francine Hughes at fhughes@apu.ac.uk or Professor Keith Richards at ksr10@cam.ac.uk to purchase a hard copy.

 

Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) National Award for Planning Achievement 2001
The Parrett Catchment Project received an Award for Planning for Inland Water at the RTPI National Annual Awards for Planning Achievement 2001 at Grosvenor Hotel, London on 30 January 2001. The judges recognised that 'this is an extremely valuable project' and reported that the multi-disciplinary partnership approach to flood improvement, adopted by the PCP, may be of interest to areas that have been recently affected by flooding.