Background

Since 2005, the Environment Agency’s maintenance and operational activities have been assessed using a risk based approach, focussing on areas of greatest flood risk to people and property.  Where the benefit is mainly to land drainage, the Environment Agency has been reducing the extent of watercourse management and reviewing the continued operation of pumping stations in many rural areas of Cumbria and elsewhere.

In January 2011, the Environment Agency notified land occupiers in the Waver Wampool catchments that it would cease to operate four land drainage pumping stations at Wolsty, Rumbling Bridge, Lessonhall and Gamelsby and funding for channel maintenance would also be reduced.

One option for the future of the pumping stations and channel maintenance is to hand over their operation to the local community by setting up a new Water Level Management Board.   In 2014, the NFU entered into an agreement with the Environment Agency to produce the business cases required to consult on two new Water Level Management Boards including the Waver Wampool in North West Cumbria and the Lyth and Witherslack area of South Cumbria.

A consultation took place in July and August 2015 to determine whether the Waver Wampool community was in favour of establishing a new Water Level Management Board.  The results of the consultation can be viewed in the Consultation section of the website.

In February 2017, the Environment Agency announced a further extension to the notice period until 31st October 2018.  This was in response to the need to amend the 1991 Land Drainage Act in relation to the methodology for apportioning the costs of running a Board.  In September 2017, the Environment Agency announced that it intends to continue funding the operation of land drainage pumping stations in the Waver Wampool until communities have all options for an alternative solution open to them for consideration. In the Waver Wampool, this will require funding to be provided beyond the existing notice period of the end of October 2018 given the need for changes to the legislation.

Who should I contact to find out more?

With any questions about this announcement, please contact Dale Gibbons at the Environment Agency on Tel: 0203 0255729 or email Dale.Gibbons@environment-agency.gov.uk

For more information about the development of the proposals for the Water Level Management Board, please contact the NFU North West Region office on 01695 554900.

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