Minutes of Meeting of South Chilterns Catchment Project: Steering Group
Held at High Wycombe District Council offices
Thursday 16th November 2017
|Allen Beechey||Chilterns Chalk Streams Project|
|Joanna Clark||University of Reading|
|Brian Connorton||Pang Valley Flood Forum/West Berkshire Countryside Society|
|Charlotte Elliott||Natural England|
|Alison Futter||EA Fisheries, Biodiversity & Geomorphology|
|Claudia Innes||Thames Water|
|George Crowe||Royal Yachting Association (London & South East Region)|
|Judith Hartley||Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust|
|Stuart Keable||EA Fisheries|
|Kay Lacey||Pang Valley Flood Forum|
|Alison Love||Environment Agency|
|Henry Oliver||North Wessex Downs ANOB|
|Tom Ormesher||National Farmers Union|
|Mike Overall||Revive the Wye/ Little Marlow Lakes|
|Sue Morris||Withymead Nature Reserve|
|Sam Riley||Forestry Commission|
|Oliver Roden||EA South Chilterns Catchment Coordinator|
|Graham Scholey||Environment Agency|
|John Shaw||Chiltern Rangers|
|Philip Simpkin||Wycombe District Council|
|Lesley Sproat||EA Biodiversity|
|Neil Tytler||Foundation for Water Research (Catchment Host)|
|David Wales||Thames Fisheries Consultative|
|Matthew Woodcock||Forestry Commission|
|Jeff Woodhouse||Thames Valley Anglers Association|
|Kiran Sehra||Work experience with WBC|
Above names in Bold indicate presence at the meeting; underlined names sent apologies
NT welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked them for making the effort to attend. A number of apologies had been received and these were recorded. OR has moved on to another area within the EA and no longer will be attending these meetings.
All around the table introduced themselves in turn and their affiliation.
There were no comments regarding the previous minutes.
It was agreed that any additional items would be raised as the meeting proceeded.
JC, being unable to make the meeting, had sent a note to update the meeting on their successful NERC funded LANDWISE (LAND management in loWland catchments for Integrated flood riSk rEduction) project. This was circulated to all those present.
NT appraised the meeting of the recent additional sections added to the website – Feedback, Riverfly Monitoring, Young Roots Project and costing estimates for projects both on the Pang and Wye. A suggestion was made to modify the existing feedback page or create a new ‘suggest a project’ form and to give that page more prominence on the website, perhaps via a ‘contact us’ or ‘get involved’ heading in the main web page menu.
MO asked whether it was possible to fund a Catchment Officer who would be able to help in developing the website. NT said these suggestions would certainly be considered.
NT then circulated the website user statistics. These showed that since going live in September the site was averaging 3000 visits/month with the largest number of users coming from GB followed by India and the USA.
Wye: MO indicated there were a number of projects likely to be carried out by the Revive the Wye Group but they were confidential at present. Unfortunately, money identified by the EA for Holtspur Lane improvements had now been allocated elsewhere.
PS said that regarding the Deculverting the Wye project, it had to compete for the same funds as Roads projects. However, there is a visit planned for WBC Councillors to visit a similar deculverting project in Sheffield.
Thames: MO talked about the River Thames project at Little Marlow. The feasibility study needs funding but he has some money to improve paths, signage etc.
AB discussed two initiatives. One on the Hamble Brook with the National Trust and the other on the Ewelme Brook regarding modifying the channel around the old mill beside the watercress beds.
CE introduced herself it being her first meeting, but said that in future an Andrew Russell (another Catchment Officer) would be taking her place on the Steering Group, She then mentioned there were two possible Defra funding schemes The Water Environment Grant and the River Restoration Fund. She promised to forward to NT details of Natural England (NE) funding initiatives. CE then went on to outline the background to Catchment Sensitive Farming for which NE are the delivery body. NE also provide specialist advice, Newsletters and information on events.
NB Subsequent to the meeting CE sent the following information through:
“As promised I am attaching a link to Natural England’s Conservation 2021 Strategy which outlines our broad ambitions for the natural environment until 2021. It goes without saying this is in the context of Brexit and all the associated change:-
Secondly, I am attaching a slightly clearer map of the catchment and the High Priority Areas for water quality which are the first priority for engagement by the Catchment Sensitive Farming Officer – Andrew Russell.
To reiterate my short explanation of CSF work in today’s meeting:
Catchment Sensitive Farming is a project between DEFRA, EA and Natural England, with NE the delivery body. The project is in its 11th year and has proved very successful in encouraging farmers to take voluntary action to reduce the risk of diffuse water pollution from their farms. This is achieved through our own advice visits, via contracted specialist advice; through events and newsletters. CSFOs are also responsible for helping farmers apply for the mid tier of the Countryside Stewardship scheme, the latest agri-environment scheme and particularly to choose management options and capital items to address the water quality issues in the area. Our land management colleagues are responsible for developing applications with farmers for Higher Tier agreements on the more complex sites, often designated as SSSIs. For more information.
You’ll have gathered that resources are limited and CSFOs may cover more than one catchment; this makes attending catchment partnership meetings not always be possible. Notwithstanding time constraints, we are keen to support the partnership and further our mutual aim to improve the water environment.”
AB raised a point regarding a worrying situation in that while from a water company perspective there is a developing water resources drought, we are already experiencing an environmental drought. He drew the group’s attention to the EA’s Water Situation Monthly Reports where it can be seen that a serious drought situation is unfolding within the Catchment.
MO said he was talking to the EA regarding river bank and footpath improvements together with the installation of three fishing platforms. Also he is working with the Marlow Society to develop a possible Heritage Lottery Fund bid for a heritage trail at Cookham to improve the Thames Path in that area.
JW informed the group about a project he is working on, with possible Thames Water funding, to remove the Riversdale Weir at the bottom of the River Wye where it runs into the Thames at Cookham. He is investigation the possibility where FWR (as Hosts) will hold the funds given by Thames and use them to pay TVAA authorised invoices for the work. Both MO and AB were very interested in this facility provided by FWR, for projects they were also working on.
Finally, NT informed the group of his impending retirement at the end of December. His place will be taken by a Dr Russell Frost who is starting work with FWR on 21st November 2017. Russell will be contacting the members of the group to introduce himself.
To be arranged but probably in three months’ time around mid to late February.
The meeting closed at 12:30 pm.