This week I was invited to attend and report on a round table discussion on the forthcoming Flood and Water Management Bill. NCE and Hydro International had teamed up to bring together some of the country’s most senior flood and water management experts to thrash out the details of the new legislation. The meeting was attended by policy makers Defra in the guise of head of the non-agricultural diffuse pollution team Vicky Dawe, and the Environment Agency head of strategy David Rooke.
The first thing that struck me was how open and direct Vicky Dawe was. In my experience if policy makers do attend these things there are a lot of generic statements made with not much detail and certainly not much admission of the challenges. It is obvious that setting such wide ranging legislation that profoundly affects the general public , the public sector and water management profession, is difficult. Vicky Dawe did not pretend that it was easy, or that Defra knew best. She made it quite clear that they were listening to all of the 600 responses heard and were trying to find the best solution. She acknowledged that this was difficult.
For example local authorites are to become both the adopter and the approver of sustainable urban drainage systems and paying for this is going to be quite a challenge. Authorities no longer have these expertise in house and a serious recruitment drive is going to be needed. This, coupled with maintaining hundreds of new suds systems, authorities are going to have to dig deep. “We know it will be difficult and we are talking about it. Somebody has to pay and there is not a quick fix,” she said.
The event was filmed but I managed to forget about that. I have no ambitions of becoming a broadcast journalist! But the film will be on http://www.nce.co.uk later this week and my article will be in the magazine on Thursday 17th.