Environmental bodies in England and Wales seek views on the future of the Upper Severn Valley

Severn Valley Flooded during Storm Babet

The Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales alongside Shropshire Council and Powys County Council have released their proposal for how plans will be progressed to make the Severn a more vibrant and resilient river catchment.

For the next 6 weeks they are inviting the community to share their views on the long-term approach for the area via a new consultation. It will set out a vision for the Severn and outline a proposed approach to strategy development that will contribute towards reducing flood risk and increasing water security. The strategy will also support communities and nature locally and provide a boost to the local economy,

Have your say on the consultation by Tuesday 21 May.

Respondents in Wales can respond in Welsh at: https://bit.ly/SVWMSCYM0424

Respondents in Wales can respond in English at: https://bit.ly/SVWMSENG0424

Respondents in England can respond at  http://consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/west-midlands/svwms

This consultation is being run by the Severn Valley Water Management Scheme (SVWMS), which is led by a partnership of the Environment Agency, NRW, Shropshire Council and Powys County Council. It is being developed in response to significant flooding of the River Severn in recent decades which has damaged homes and businesses, impacted local infrastructure and disrupted travel.  This project aims to better protect over 3,000 homes and 1,000 businesses from flood risk across the upper Severn catchment in England and Wales.

The project also seeks to support the management of long-term water resources, with recent periods of prolonged dry weather having resulted in the need for action to minimise the environmental damage from low water flows. As an example of these extremes, in 2022 the Upper Severn catchment went from winter flooding to drought within the space of 8 months, with groundwater and reservoir stores being used to support the people and wildlife who depend on the water supply provided by the Severn.

To help address these issues, the SVWMS is adopting a regenerative approach, meaning that interventions will seek to positively contribute to addressing the climate crisis and halting biodiversity decline, whilst also providing significant flood risk benefits. It will investigate interventions including natural flood risk management measures that slow the flow of water upstream such as the creation of leaky dams and land management practices as well as engineered solutions such as the construction of flood storage areas and embankments.

The SVWMS team have already undertaken scoping work to better understand the potential scale of both nature-based and engineered interventions that might be required to enable effective water management across the area, upstream of Shrewsbury.

David McKnight, Flood and Coastal Risk Manager at the Environment Agency said:“Delivering the SVWMS is a long-term solution to sustainable water management, and we are right at the beginning of a complex journey to achieve our vision.We are looking forward to developing and testing options in collaboration with partners and communities across England and Wales in 2024 as we begin the consultation.We want to hear from all areas of the Severn community as we embark on the transformation programme that the catchment needs to be able to adapt to our changing climate and continue to thrive.”
Gavin Bown, Natural Resources Wales’ Head of Operations for Mid Wales said:“The impact of flooding can be devastating for communities, and the reality of the climate crisis means that we have to adapt to extreme weather conditions in the future.“We are a partner of the Severn Valley Water Management Scheme because it has the potential to enhance our work to reduce flood risk to communities in north Powys while also providing important benefits for nature and the environment.“This consultation is an important step in learning about what is important for communities across the catchment, and it will influence how we move forward to protect people and the local environment.”

The closing date for the consultation is 21 May 2024.

If you require a paper copy of the consultation, please call 03708 506 506 to request a copy of the information to be posted or emailed.