Minutes of South Chilterns Catchment Partnership Steering Group Meeting
Held at Environment Agency, Red Kite House, Wallingford
Tuesday 1st May 2018

Present Representing
Alison Love (AL) Catchment Coordinator, Environment Agency
Charlotte Elliott Natural England
Sam Riley Forestry Commission
Claudia Innes Thames Water
Mike Overall Revive the Wye/ Little Marlow Lakes
Dave Wales Thames Fishery Consultative/td>
Stuart Keable Fisheries Technical Officer, Environment Agency
Lesley Sproat Fisheries, Biodiversity & Geomorphology, Environment Agency
Russell Frost (RCF) Catchment Host, Foundation for Water Research

Apologies were received from Brian Connorton of West Berkshire Countryside Society, Allen Beechey of Chilterns Chalk Streams Project, John Shaw of Chiltern Rangers, Kay Lacey of Pang Valley Flood Forum, Jo Clark of the University of Reading, Jeff Woodhouse of Thames Valley Angling Association, and Philip Simpkin of Wycombe District Council.

  1. Welcome, apologies and introductions
    RCF welcomed those present. Participants introduced themselves and their affiliation. RCF informed the meeting of apologies received.

  2. Minutes of the previous meeting
    The minutes of the meeting held on 22nd February were accepted and will be placed on the catchment partnership website.

  3. Matters arising
    Revised to reflect the comments made 22nd February 2018, the amended minutes of the 16th November 2017 meeting have been placed on the website, as have cost estimates for fencing the banks along a stretch of the River Pang. The Partnership evaluation summary prepared by the EAís National Team, and the facilitatorís reports on the stakeholder workshops held in February 2013, were circulated to members of the Partnership.

    The CaBA website is being redesigned and, unless required by a Catchment Partnership, the redesigned site is unlikely to include specific catchment information. Incorrect information on the South Chilterns Catchment, especially but not restricted to the River Pang, is held in the current site. AL, RCF and Kay Lacey should liaise to agree a response to Michelle Walker of the Rivers Trust on this issue.

    A task force to reappraise the inclusion of the River Pang in the South Chilternís Catchment has not been formed.

    Documentation and information regarding the Water Environment Grant scheme (WEG) had been circulated to all members of the catchment partnership.

  4. WEG project bids
    Four potential bids for WEG funding were noted. Lesley Sproat (LS) informed the meeting that a bid was being developed by the Chiltern Chalk Streams Project and the National Trust to reinstate Hughenden Stream, a winterbourne chalk-stream rising above High Wycombe. The projectís scope includes some design work and full implementation. Mike Overall (MO) introduced his ideas for a potential feasibility study to improve Spade Oak Brook through the Little Marlow Lakes Country Park. Stuart Keable expressed a keen interest and a wish to walk through the area so as to help evaluate the projectís potential. The time remaining this year for submitting a WEG bid was very limited, hence it was thought more realistic, probably, to regard this project as a prospect for next year. MO requested Charlotte Elliott to feedback on whether the potential scheme might meet the designated site criteria for WEG funded projects under Natural Englandís selection procedure. Two other potential bids were reported to be not proceeding, for various reasons, at least this year. These were (i) de-culverting the River Wye and its naturalisation in High Wycombe, and (ii) feasibility studies for additional fish and eel passes on the River Thames.

    AL made a general observation that many potential bids were not being pursued to completion. The limited time between the schemeís launch and the deadline for bid submission appears to be a major factor, as is (probably) payment of project implementation costs in arrears (up to four times a year).

  5. Catchment partnership - vision, goals, objectives and governance
    In introducing the item RCF noted that, in the absence of volunteers to join him in preparing a draft vision with goals and objectives for the catchment partnership, he had prepared and circulated a short statement prior to the meeting. RCF emphasised that the draft vision statement with associated aims and objectives was intended purely as an aid to discussion.

    At the outset, RCF suggested the meeting was unlikely to agree today a vision statement with supportive aims etc but that discussion should enable the identification of principles that could be developed and applied by a task force, to be formed, which should report to the next steering group meeting. This was accepted. All wished this phase of the catchment partnershipís development to be expedited so that the partnership may focus on practical, concrete actions. A wide-ranging discussion ensued, to which all members present contributed, resulting in the emergence of the following principles:

    1. Whether the formulated vision, goals and objectives should relate to the South Chilterns Catchment or to the Catchment Partnership. Everyone wants an ecologically diverse and sustainable catchment comprising aquatic, landscape and forested elements. And specific pressures within the catchment need to be acknowledged. However, there seemed a consensus view that the thrust of a statement of vision, aims and objectives should address the catchment partnership as an institution. Adopting this stance may lead logically into developing an optimal partnership governance structure for delivering against the partnershipís vision.

    2. The catchment partnershipís vision, aims and objectives should reflect the rationale underlying the formation of catchment partnerships. It should also indicate clearly:

      • Whether the partnershipís primary role is to initiate, facilitate or influence action to meet the partnershipís objectives. Or, if a mixed role is adopted, the expected balance.

      • The role of the catchment partnership viz a viz the roles of its constituent members: where and how the partnership should seek to add value to the efforts of its members, and the role of the host in this. For instance, the partnershipís role might include agreeing priorities for developing projects across themes and water bodies within the catchment; agreeing a set of catchment-wide issues for regular consideration at Steering Group meetings; assessing the potential of various sources of project funding; information exchange and sharing best practice; supporting community participation; working with schools; citizen science; and awareness raising, etc.

    Specific aspects for potential inclusion in the catchment partnershipís objectives were suggested. They included: woodland creation, natural flood management, biosecurity, invasive non-native species, water demand pressures, sustainable abstraction, national 25-year environmental plan, green infrastructure, channel morphology, and water quality.

    AL, MO and RCF agreed to participate as members of the task force and it was agreed that Allen Beechey and Kay Lacey would be invited to join also.
  6. Any Other Business
    Consistent with the requirement for existing hosts to gain the support of the partnership prior to applying to act as host for the subsequent year, RCF sought the meetingís support for the Foundation for Water Research to apply for hosting the partnership in 2018-19. After some discussion this support was granted. Looking ahead to 2019-20, RCF invited partnership members to consider this issue again, should they wish, towards the end of the current calendar year.

    Hilary Philips, formerly host for the Evenlode catchment partnership, will henceforth represent BBOWT in the South Chilterns Catchment Partnership. She replaces Jude Vernon.

  7. Date and location of next meeting
    The next steering group meeting will be held at 2.00 pm, Thursday 20 September, at Red Kite House.

    R C Frost 14/05/2018
Pang Meetings
Thames Meetings
Wye Meetings