At a meeting last week on 24th February residents from local brook and flood groups came together for the first time to create a Forum to look at local water, sewage and flooding issues. I helped set up the meeting and was delighted by the positive input from so many people. Below are some quotes I just sent out this week re the meeting and below them some of the issues we discussed.
Photo: Electronic noticeboard in Ebley Mill where we held the meeting
Cllr Sarah Lunnon, who helped found the Slad Brook Action Group and chaired the meeting said: "We need a wider water management strategy in the District that seeks to store and infiltrate water and protect us from floods and drought. That means a joined up approach that includes changes to our planning, farming, house building and more. In short an end to those of us upstream dumping on those downstream."
Tim Davies, of the BARFF (What does that stand for again!!) said: "We are a new group concerned about flooding of our homes and I came away feeling positive about the potential of this forum to help prevent some of that flooding. We also want to ensure that when the canal is developed the problems are not made worse. It is positive that the Environment Agency are looking to spend £500,000 on slowing water down in the Slad valley: this is a step in the right direction to help reduce peak water flows that end up flooding homes in Brigend."
Philip Booth, from the Ruscombe Brook Action Group said: "It was great to have at the meeting people representing the Ruscombe, Slad, Stonehouse and Brigend action groups plus representatives from Stroud Valleys Project and Water 21. We would welcome other interested individuals or groups at our next meeting on 30th March where we will be looking further at what role we can play in ensuring the most sustainable solutions are found for the problems we face. If anyone is interested please call me on 01453 755451."
Well the meeting started with brief introductions then more detail about what each of the groups had been doing. We then moved onto a discussion about what we might gain from working more closely together. Discussions were many and various (!!) and included:
- How groups could support each other on an overall plan and possibly on more localised issues eg BARFF have a set of projects that include sluice gates that are not operated properly, flood meadows that don't flood and a road that acts as a dam.
- The group agreed we need to end those of us upstream dumping on those downstream.
- Is there a role to help ensure EA develop the most sustainable solutions for the Slad Valley with their £0.5m
- The role of small scale hydro
- Biomass crops that might encourage more participation from landowners
- Returning areas to original landscapes/wilderness
- The canal: opportunities and challenges
- Using expertise in the group to be more effective eg issues re planning permission, surface water flooding maps
- Role of giving support and advice to others not in the group re flooding, sewage etc
- Making a submission to the Core Strategy
- Funding opportunities and whether we should seek funding for a project worker to help put plans together. SVP offered to help apply for a grant while Water 21 said there maybe some private funding to help.
- Communiversity are planning a day with Water 21 possibly in June about water.
- Brook and Flood Forum could seek advice from various people at any future Forum meetings like Severn Trent, the EA, District Council etc
We agreed a number of useful steps forward including another meeting scheduled for 30th March. More info if you give me a ring!