Operational flood working groups
Wiltshire council has set up two Operational Flood Working Groups, one in the north, and the other in the south of the county. They meet bi-monthly, and are normally hosted in different town and parish councils within each area.
Currently the meetings are held virtually. Town and parish councils wishing to attend these meetings should contact email@example.com for details on how to join.
The groups operate under strict terms of reference, the portfolio holder is Cllr Nic Puntis. Other positions include:
- Cllr Nic Puntis, chair of the northern group
- Cllr Andrew Davis, chair of the southern group
- Cllr Charles McGrath, chairs the Salisbury meetings.
The groups roughly align with the river catchment areas operated by the Environment Agency, and are a forum for stakeholders with interests in:
- highways surface water
- surface water run-off
- drainage and flooding, to consider the issues relating to flooding and drainage within their respective catchment areas
Stakeholders attending these meetings include:
- Wessex Water
- Thames Water
- Highways Agency
- Network Rail
- Environment Agency
- Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue service.
These issues cover items such as:
- identifying lead authorities for each issue to enable better, more focused, efficient and coordinated response, enabling resources and funding to be targeted effectively
- to make recommendations for bids to fund major projects
- to consider proposals for prioritising funding and programming of schemes
- to implement government legislation on drainage and flood management
- to comply with legal requirements to map our surface water and establish collaborative information with our partners
- to respond to community area boards in respect of flooding and drainage issues
- to communicate with members of the public regarding the work we are doing via the Wiltshire Magazine and parish newsletter.
Initial requests for assistance from the public will be assessed by staff from the divisional highways offices. If they cannot be dealt with locally they will be referred to the drainage engineers. The weather and drainage manager will prioritise schemes in accordance with the following criteria:
|Houses||Protect life and dwellings||Flood alleviation equipment|
|Commercial property||Protect property||Protect critical utilities infrastructure|
|Roads||Protect life, dwellings, and essential access to main roads||Road closures, diversions, and flood alleviation equipment|
|Gardens/Agricultural Land||None||No action taken|
|Wednesday 23 August 2023||10am to 12 noon||South group||Warminster Civic Centre|
|Thursday 28 September 2023||10.00am to 11.45am||North group||Melksham Community Campus|
|Wednesday 25 October 2023||10am to 12 noon||South group||Warminster Civic Centre|
|Thursday 23 November 2023||9.30am to 11.30am||North group||Melksham Community Campus|
|Wednesday 6 December 2023||10am to 12 noon||South group||Warminster Civic Centre|
Town and parish councils wishing to attend the meeting are to advise the secretary of the group firstname.lastname@example.org of their attendance and issues they would like discussed.
The meetings alternate monthly between the north and south of the county.
Videos and presentations
Videos were used during our recent Winter Preparedness Event to demonstrate the vital work that Wiltshire Council and partners undertake year round:
- planning process, flood risk, and drainage - notes for parish councils: read the presentation
- groundwater and groundwater flooding in Wessex, with Guy Parker from the Environment Agency: watch the video YouTube: Groundwater flooding in Wessex
- whistle-stop Wiltshire parts 1 and 2 - a two-part video taking a trip around both the river Avons that rise in Wiltshire; the Bristol Avon and the Hampshire Avon. We speak to Melvin Wood, who talks to us about the Bristol Avon catchment, and Jim Wreglesworth, who works in the Hampshire Avon Catchment. We visit the Great Somerford gauging station, and have a tour of the flood defence scheme at Harnham in Salisbury: watch the videos, part one, part two
- Parish Stewards: watch the video
- SSEN, winter preparedness: watch the video
- Environment Agency - FORT - what is it, how will it benefit your community, and how to use it
- Harnham Flood Defences - a virtual tour of Harnham Flood Defences and how the Environment Agency manages flood risk in the Hampshire Avon catchment in Wiltshire
- Shaw & Whitley Flood Group - a video from the Shaw & Whitley flood group, set-up following several flooding events in their community: watch the video
- Wessex Water - how they deal and are dealing with Groundwater and sewer flooding: watch the video
- groundwater - a must for all those communities affected by groundwater, understanding how it works and how it affects our communities
- Planning & Drainage - explains how the drainage team interacts with the planning system to help reduce flood risk to new developments and their communities
- Building a sandbag wall: watch the video.
GOV.UK: Collection - Water situation reports for England - the latest Environment Agency South West Water report.
Wiltshire council often approaches landowners to request that they clear overgrown and blocked ditches, and watercourses where there is a risk of flooding. There is an extensive network of watercourses and ditches in the county. It has been found that parish and town councils have, in many cases, been successfully able to provide valuable assistance in identifying and helping to resolve these issues, including working with us to help reduce the risk of flooding in their communities.
As part of the partnership working initiative we have asked parish and town councils to become more involved in the early stages of this process and, using their local knowledge and contacts, to make the initial informal approaches to landowners to undertake clearance of their ditch or watercourse.
The suggested approach is set out below:
- an informal approach by (telephone or email) from a parish or town council representative is made, asking a landowner to clear ditches and watercourses
- if there is no action by the landowner, a letter can be sent requesting action
- if the clearance is still not undertaken, a second letter can be sent to the landowners
- should you encounter any problems do not hesitate to contact the council's drainage team, who can then prioritise any further action as appropriate. If necessary, they may also instruct the council's legal team, if any formal legal action becomes necessary, or arrange for a referral to the Environment Agency, where a watercourse is a main river
- if you would like to discuss this matter further, or require any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact Renate Malton, Project Officer, on 01225 712514 (mobile 07827 954856) or by email at email@example.com.
Lead Local Flood Authorities are required, under Section 21 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, to establish and maintain:
- a register of structures or features which, in the opinion of the authority, are likely to have a significant effect on a flood risk in its area, and
- a record of information about each of those structures or features, including information about ownership and state of repair.
The Act goes on to state that
the lead local flood authority must arrange for the register to be available for inspection at all reasonable times.
Wiltshire council has chosen to use a web-based system that will be accessible to the public. Through the course of our work on flood investigations and local flood risk assessments we are collecting data on structures and features which are likely to have a significant effect on flood risk within Wiltshire. Examples may include flood defences, bridges, culverts, drainage ditches and embankments. They can be natural or man-made.
We record relevant information about each asset, including its ownership and condition, and why it is significant to local flood risk. This site is still under construction and will be updated periodically as we become aware of further significant assets.