South Chilterns Catchment Pilot Steering Group Workshop 20-02-2013

Summary of actions decided at the meeting.

  1. Detailed reports of each of three stakeholder workshops plus a summary are available on the FWR website.
  2. EA to sort out boundaries & provide a map
  3. FWR circulate draft Terms of Reference for consideration at the next meeting.
  4. Steering Group should aim to come up with a vision for the Catchment and a prioritised action plan & go back to stakeholders to get support & agreement on priorities. Refer to Workshop reports to check that the Catchment Plan reflects local views.
  5. Members email details of existing projects to FWR.
  6. JB to speak to AF’s boss for assistance in writing this plan.
  7. JB meet with FWR to clarify the host role. Need to agree key things before next meeting. Try to agree & develop vision via email & look at developing a plan at the next meeting.
  8. Next meeting 22nd April 2013 at 1pm, EA Offices, Wallingford.

Attendees:
Rowena Harris, Facilitator Dialogue by Design
Maxine Forshaw (MF) Foundation for Water Research
Neil Tyler (NT) Foundation for Water Research
Alison Futter (AF) Environment Agency
Jenni Balmer (JB) Environment Agency
Brian Roberts (BR) Environment Agency
Suzanne Bannon (SB) Environment Agency
John Archer (JA) NFU
Allen Beechey(AB) Chilterns Chalk Stream Project
Andrew Fielder (AF) Natural England
Dick Greenaway (DG) West Berkshire Countryside Society
Daryl Henehan (DH) Thames Water
Henry Oliver (HO) North Wessex Downs AONB
Roger Wilding (RW) Revive the Wye

Apologies:
Lesley Stoner (LS) Wycombe District Council
Sally Wallingdon (SW) West Berks Farming & Countryside Society

MINUTES

  1. Objectives for this meeting.

  2. Feedback on the stakeholder workshops
  3. The Facilitator summarised the outputs from the 3 stakeholder workshops held in each sub-catchment during February :

    Detailed reports of each workshop, plus a summary of all three, are available on the FWR website.
    AF: No real concern expressed about flooding.
    JB: Spoke to individuals about flooding.
    Facilitator: Flooding has previously dominated workshops in other Catchments. Here it wasn't a big issue - it shows the constructive approach people took to these workshops.
    BR: Lot of people upset by flooding at the moment and it is groundwater flooding. Buckleberry has fairly low protection. EA look at partnership working with Thames Water and local authorities and working with residents. Lots of local authorities should be involved in this.
    AB: Each catchment should have a representative from the local authority.
    Facilitator: Very important if you need to talk about a particular issue.
    AF: There are local authority links. Flooding will be an issues in some parts of the catchment.
    BR: Since our re-structure, our area covers everything from Oxford – Thames - Kennet- huge area dealing with lots of different local authorities & we operate on a catchment basis & not on a local authority basis.
    JB: Where we are considering projects, we need to look at where we can reduce risk of flooding.
    BR: We have to promote Water Framework Directives (WFD) environmental impacts so I thought this is an important meeting to come too, how involved I get I don’t know until I know the objectives of this meeting & which are the right people to action for this project.
    Facilitator: What can we take forward from the three meetings? JB: The big issues are education and communication and separate issues to slot into are different for all three catchments. ie Pang has physical alterations to river & issues around groundwater and flow; Wye has issues with structure & flow and Thames has lots of structures that have a negative impact. We need to create a better river environment.
    DG: Issues with sewage flow as Pang dry in some places. Sewage needs looking at in all three catchments.
    DH: For each discharge we have a permit for what the discharge has to be. A small sewage treatment works has to be high quality with strict conditions imposed.
    AF: Regarding flooding, we could look at variations in flow from drought to flood in order to manage rivers to cope with climatic conditions. This would increase the capacity for wildlife to cope with climatic conditions. It is the management of the land around the rivers where management comes in and not to think of the river as the wet bit, think of the wider environment to maintain viable populations.
    AB: Am interested in how the plan is intended to move forward. We host the Colne Catchment Management Plan. We went to all the stakeholders & created a vision for catchment plan to be shared by all.
    JB: At the workshops we said we would create a vision for the catchment . We need to develop that vision & send it back out & keep momentum & to assess what needs to be in the vision.
    ACTION: Need to come up with a vision for the Catchment and a prioritised action plan & go back to stakeholders to get support & agreement on priorities. Refer to Workshop reports to check that the Catchment Plan reflects local views.
    Facilitator: Remember that an evening meeting might be worth considering so people can attend who can’t make it during the day. Do we want to talk about how we will work together to make a vision & what else we need to do as a steering group?
    AB: With the Colne Catchment Steering Group, to facilitate the delivery of the catchment plan, the Colne had six outcomes using a bottom up approach. We carried out a series of stakeholder workshops & identified specific outcomes ie Facilitator: I have experience of the Severn Rivers Trust where a steering group about this size developed their vision statement, a list of desirable outcomes and then went out to the wider public. After the public meetings they felt able to continue to develop a more specific action plan and agree priorities. The host (Severn Rivers Trust) wrote the Plan with input from all partners. Other Catchment Partnerships have done it differently. How might it work here in South Chilterns?
    JB: As steering group do we take bottom up approach or write a plan & take it out to get people to comment on it?
    AF: We have a draft plan which has same measures as first river basin management plan, need to bring everyone together & gather evidence i.e. Dick’s group in wider community, not just our data but other organisations as well. Facilitator: Who would gather the data?
    AF: EA can write their bit. Host (i.e. FWR) should write it, needs to be non-technical.
    DG: We could help with channel surveys where habitat is poor using our volunteers.
    HO: Been involved in Upper Thames, it is very easy not to involve people - it is difficult to know where to draw the line.
    AB: With the Colne there were two hosts. Average catchment spend on the pilot was £32k and put plan on website.
    DH: Website is a good idea as you can click on areas of concern & easy for general public to view.
    AB: Hopefully have some DEFRA guidance on these pilots due in March/April 2013.
    MF: The problem time and time again is we need to have access to some serious funding.
    RW: Is it feasible to have a working plan that is still being developed & then people can see something is happening?
    AB: Most plans are a living document constantly evolving to try & show to stakeholders & say we identified problems in the steering group ie river habitat restoration workshops and if you can identify a task that would help.
    ??: If smaller groups feed into steering group, then you can have a very specific problem & a very specific way of addressing it.
    JB: Sally Wallington on Pang arranged to go out with our fisheries officer to put in woody debris. We can have a plan but need to show we are doing stuff. Five to six project officers in each catchment to show we are delivering on the plan. Big issue is we are going to take years to sort it out but need to get people interested & get things going.
    BR: I love the idea of an integrated catchment vision, we already have a catchment management plan- need to be clear what is coming out of the group, is it catchment wide or specific locations. Are we wanting to develop “Co-ordinated eco management”. What is coming out of the group? Only EA projects i.e. woody debris? Sometimes different teams in the EA have different aims and objectives e.g. Op's team removing woody debris.
    Facilitator: Don't forget the aim of an integrated approach so hopefully identify and develop projects that will tick more than one box or outcome. AB: Catchment walkovers are very good & gets people involved in Environment Agency (EA) & Thames Water work, that they have to do anyway.
    BR: DEFRA introduced pathfinder. The community got to grips with river corridor surveys & put budget together working with fisheries & consultants. We already have catchment boards for Water Framework Directive (WFD). Love the idea of catchment vision, but what are we going to get out of it?
    HO: First we need to review & understand what is already happening.
    ACTION: Review relevant activities already taking place across the Catchment.
    JB: I like DH’s idea for a plan and sub groups ie diffuse pollution lead and other leads and smaller projects more specific ie if you're talking about pollution don’t involve flood risk management.
    DG: Should Ops team member be at these meetings?
    BR: I represent Ops in flood risk management.
    Facilitator: Once you have set objectives you will know who you need to be involved and to what level.
    AF: Coming to grips with all of this, there is a limit to what one project can do. We need to take a step back & look at the evidence. Can we fix it? Do we have the resources & expertise? What do we want to achieve? What will the river look like later? Look for funding- environmental stewardship has a role. We need to validate issues, is it in our ability to fix them?
    JA: We need a review of what is happening. If we look at what is happening at the moment, flooding is not being discussed and it is a big issue with farmers. Circumstances are extreme and unusual, needs to be brought into the vision we have. In general, farmers are interested in land drainage, everyone else wants wet farmland and dry towns, so conflict in vision & important to bear in mind.
    DG: In Hempstead Norreys workshop, they forgot land belonged to the farmer & how that would affect his income.
    JA: Not just the land it could be on an agricultural mortgage - no insurance, farmer gets into debt.

  4. Terms of Reference and way forward
  5. Facilitator: Shall we discuss possible Terms of Reference for this group? I sent round two catchment management pilot project steering group terms of reference, take time to read them and then we will go round the table & see who would sign up for this.
    HO: The sense of involvement is different for us as we have four and a half people working on behalf of nine local authorities with four or five sub catchments & 700 square miles, so although I can’t be involved, would be interested to be kept on the mailing list and be an additional organisation, as I am already involved with ARK.
    DG: We are in a similar position. What is strange about this steering group is that the Pang is linked to the South Chilterns and Henry’s AONB is in the Upper Chilterns & outside the patch.
    Facilitator: It would probably be more efficient to have a Catchment wide group, otherwise there will be more meetings.
    NT: First meeting at EA, Carole Barker at DEFRA said definition used different river basin districts – PANG different catchment, didn’t fit in with anything else. Most catchments based on CAMS catchment boundaries but this is different as Pang belongs more to the fluvial part of the Kennet.
    Facilitator: How is your overall purpose altered or otherwise by looking at the sub-catchments within a whole?
    JB: Certain people look at whole catchments, others looking at issues on certain rivers. They may not have an interest on the whole catchment.
    AB: Do you make it issue based or catchment based? In Colne catchment, we have gone issue based but there is confusion with boundaries.
    RW: There is a danger of too many meetings & less action on the ground. Facilitator: I suggest you think of an 'inner circle' of steering group members who have the knowledge and interest to consider the whole catchment area and a wider circle of stakeholders who may have interests only on specific sub catchments. Many issues are relevant in the whole area, the solutions might be different in each sub catchment. Networking to share expertise and learning between all three areas will be valuable.
    MF: Just waiting from steer from EA as our major partner, at the moment it is all up in the air. It is fine for FWR to do the hosting as long as we know what is expected of us.
    NT: FWR will be in the inner circle. Last week was a symposium in London chaired by DEFRA for this plan to be launched end of March - start of April. DEFRA looking at second stage forward as DEFRA want to see an independent hosting. We are self funded, we can look at match funding from DEFRA and happy to be the host. We organise similar things it just remains to see how we fit in with how to: JA: NFU happy to be involved as we have just gone under a restructure and we are at county as well as region now. Nerys Wright will probably take over.
    DH: Thames Water would be involved & I am the most appropriate person at the moment. Could you provide a map with the existing boundaries so we know?
    AF: I second that about geography. Need a good map to tie in with what we are doing already – GIS file so we can join up boundaries. Catchment sensitive farming geographical overlap with CSF targeted project- physical delivery /financial support is not there – however, if we target rural pollution we can provide advice and support for that. Entry level stewardship in these three catchments are high. Environmental stewardship agreement between Natural England and farmer are purely voluntary and we can help with buffering advisors & we could encourage farmers to put in appropriate buffer strips for appropriate action.
    Facilitator: Are you willing to help in this capacity?
    AF: Am ok at the moment, but future specifics may require different people.
    BR: Catchment boundaries very important flood defence area. I cover Oxford, someone else covers West Berkshire. The ToR is very good but there are some alarm bells. Pathfinder project is local authority led. Residents in water course set up a charity to get money from us.
    AF: The Steering Group wouldn’t run the projects - it's not a formal group in that sense.
    ACTION: EA to sort out boundaries & provide a map.
    ACTION: FWR circulate draft Terms of Reference for consideration at the next meeting.
    Facilitator: Further down the line, any alarm bells ringing?
    AF: Number of EA representatives and number of groups/meetings? WFD has definite time lines of 2015-2025 - are we working to those?
    JB: You could add timelines in the WFD framework, if we are seeing changes on ground, WFD or not WFD, keep delivering changes on the ground. Facilitator: It is important not to get too bogged down 'EA speak'- it is a collaborative steering group that needs to create its own identity.
    AF: We have a catchment plan run by regional staff and need to know what we are starting with & what we are going to end up with. I do see a role. AB: I am happy to be involved & part of Colne Steering Group which meet monthly as a host - my post is only four days a week- I have some concerns about how often we meet as it could eat up my time. Happy to be involved & other colleagues.
    AF: Catchment planner will sit in on this group.
    RW: I am responsible for two chalk streams out of nine in Chilterns. We could be part of a small steering group & overview of whole catchment. Need to review Wye outer section.
    JB: With Revive the Wye, we could be a subcatchment steering group from my point of view we had to revive the Wye in our steering group and could assist with the Pang.
    What can EA contribute? Am keen to facilitate and like today we can provide rooms for EA meetings but would prefer rather infrequent meetings with work ongoing. Would be really good if you could all provide an overview of what is happening & what projects are occurring in the area and would give an overview of where we are and not overlapping and where we can integrate.
    ACTION: Email existing projects to FWR.
    JB: We are happy to get involved with ongoing work, however, the key is to have a plan of some sort with direction & agreement on what we are going to tackle. Important to collect info in stakeholder meetings. At the moment the future is up for debate, we need to chat between host & EA. We can do a lot of writing of the plan and send out for comments. Once we have a plan – we must do something about it- like sub groups. Owners of issues being part of the project to deliver. Need to show we are not just a group who meet up and chat.
    Facilitator: Good to get on with work but also need a meeting soon to agree a shared vision and priorities. Don’t forget to circulate and discuss your draft plan more widely than this group. You should decide whether notes from these meetings should be on website.
    AB: With the Colne catchment we felt we have minutes on the website and newsletter & projects being done which we are just doing now and should have done from the start.
    JB: I like the idea of a communications site with newsletter.
    DG: Can I have a plea for not having long documents just links & plenty of pictures.
    HO: We can contribute in kind - we have a building if people want to use it.
    With Upper Thames 3 objectives- Facilitator: Other Catchment Steering groups have found it useful to think of outcomes. In other words think of the changes you want to see. This list should come out of the vision & help to develop a plan – a living document. You are lucky that the EA willing to take a lead with help from FWR. One of the first things is to map out what is already happening, look for evidence of issues & identify what actions you can do more effectively in partnership. An advantage of having a steering group like this is that you can avoid duplication of effort and join forces where appropriate.
    JB: Happy to chair meeting but agree the group should not become EA biased.
    HO: Would have preferred a neutral host to chair.
    Facilitator: I suggest that the role of chair and vice chair is worked out between EA and Foundation for Water Research.
    ACTION: JB to speak to AF’s boss for assistance in writing this plan. Also meet with FWR to clarify the host role. Need key things before next meeting via email, agree & develop vision & look at developing a plan.
    AF: Whole load of investigation work currently being compiled so we can be more focussed about the plan & what we will do so that information needs to be ready & use evidence to justify it. One month hopefully to receive this.
    NT: Need to see DEFRA plan & feed in with AF work so we should aim to meet at the end of April.
    HO: If we do have a web platform we can see what everyone else has said & would facilitate that information from DEFRA & EA. We have one for all AONBs & National Parks.
    AF: EA developing web based platform in early stages.

  6. Next meeting 22nd April 2013 at 1pm RKH Wallingford.