Partners formally commit to reduce flood risk together

In recognition of the joint responsibility to minimise the risk of flooding for Hampshire’s residents, Hampshire County Council, the Environment Agency, Coastal Partners, the Southern Regional Flood and Coastal Committee and Southern Water have signed a ‘Joint Leadership Statement’ - detailing the intent to work together to reduce flood risk and increase community resilience across Hampshire

Nov 24 2023

Sitting at a table are four of the signatories of the Flood and Water Management Joint Leadership Statement

The statement, agreed at the recent Flood and Water Management Conference signals the partners’ collective commitment to work together to take further action to reduce the risk of flooding for the 400,000 households whose properties are at the highest risk, as well as businesses and infrastructure. 

Councillor Nick-Adams King, the County Council’s Executive Member for Universal Services said: “We have not forgotten the serious groundwater flooding incidences that a significant number of Hampshire residents experienced around 10 years ago. This, together with the devastating impact of more recent storms and the effect of last year’s drought - emphasises the importance of a joined-up approach to water stewardship.   We take our role as the Lead Local Flood Authority very seriously but tackling the risk from flooding is not something we can do alone as a single organisation. There are other extremely important organisations who we need to work with in partnership to improve water management across the county, for the benefit of Hampshire residents.”

Flood events are rarely caused by one source – the majority are a mix of fluvial (river flooding) pluvial (rain), coastal, groundwater and, sometimes, sewer flooding – and responsibility for managing those sources lies with a range organisations. 

David Martin, flood and coastal-risk manager for the Environment Agency in Hampshire, said: “Climate change increases the risk of flooding for us all, so it is positive for communities in Hampshire, how different organisations address these challenges together. Partnerships have helped the Environment Agency protect homes and businesses in the county through a number of flood schemes built in recent years, as well as projects currently underway to help further defend the New Forest coast and Southampton.

“Residents and organisations can register for free flood alerts and warnings that show when flooding is possible or expected, and get useful advice on preparing for it or dealing with the aftermath: or at Floodline on 0345 988 1188.”    

Lyall Cairns, Executive Head of Coastal Partners commented, ‘Rising sea levels and shifting weather patterns are driving the need to create flood resilient communities. Working collaboratively with Partners across Hampshire has the potential to help reduce flood risk, create beautiful places, and enhance the environment.’

Since the widespread groundwater flooding that took place 10 years ago, the County Council has undertaken extensive work to mitigate against flood risk. For example, five significant flood alleviation schemes have been completed in Buckskin, Farringdon, Hambledon, Romsey and Winchester and the Flood and Water Management team has reviewed over 4,000 planning applications to assess whether the surface water management plans are sufficiently robust.

Furthermore, the team has also considered more than 500 ordinary watercourse consents - required by home or land owners if they wish to make changes to ditches or watercourses (areas of water that are not part of a main river), to ensure Hampshire residents are not inadvertently increasing flood risk in their area by blocking ditches or reducing pipe sizes and in doing so, reducing land drainage networks.

As the Lead Local Flood Authority, the County Council also has in place a Flood and Water Management Strategy which sets out a river basin catchment approach to water stewardship, involving close partnership working, viewing water as a resource and considering drought as well as flood and how this, along with the ever-growing effects of climate change affects residents.

In view of the 400,000 properties in areas of Hampshire at risk of flooding, under the Strategy, the County Council has also developed 18 ‘Catchment Management Plans’ to identify and prioritise the areas within each river catchment that are at the highest risk of flooding. Within each plan are policies to address flooding issues and frameworks for the development of detailed Action Plans to combat flooding.

Additional Information

Significant works undertaken by Hampshire County Council as Lead Local Flood Authority since 2013:

- Romsey Flood Alleviation scheme in partnership with the Environment Agency to reduce the impact of river flooding from the Test
- Buckskin Flood Alleviation scheme to protect residents from groundwater flooding
- Hambledon’s ‘big pipe’ to reduce flooding to properties in the village and to provide capacity in the network for them to pump out flood water from cellars
- Works at Farringdon to improve property resilience and reduce flood impact to the A32 which was closed for almost six  weeks affecting all residents and commuters
- Works at Rectory Road and Sycamore Road in Winchester to reduce flood impacts for residents

Hampshire County Council has also undertaken hundreds of flood investigations from mysterious ‘puddles’ in people’s gardens to significant flood events. 

Work has started on producing individual ‘action plans’ for each of the 18 prioritised areas (with Catchment Plans) which will include recommendations for works based on working with natural processes and community involvement to help lower flood risk and, where necessary, ‘hard engineering’ works for very vulnerable areas.

Undertaking its role to provide a strategic overview for all sources of Flooding, the Environment Agency has recently published the  Strategic Roadmap to 2026  which sets out the strategy ambitions of Climate Resilient Places, Growth and Infrastructure and a Nation ready to respond and adapt to flooding and coastal change.

Photo caption

Pictured above, signing the Joint Leadership Statement, are (left to right): Lyall Cairns of Coastal Partners, David Martin of the Environment Agency, Councillor Nick Adams-King, Executive Member for Universal Services at Hampshire County Council and Martin Hurst, Chair of Southern Regional Flood and Coastal Committee.