River Maintenance Pilots Begin

Posted: Friday 29th November 2013

On 21 October pilots began enabling landowners and farmers to undertake low risk de–silting and maintenance work on Main Rivers that cross their land, without the need to obtain consent from the Environment Agency. The pilots are taking place in seven locations across England, trialling a new way of regulating de–silting work. The work will be restricted to very small rivers, not arterial, with a view of starting small and learning from experience.

In terms of guidance for landowners and farmers, the Environment Agency has issued a Regulatory Position Statement that sets out more stringently what work can be undertaken and how it needs to be done to protect the environment. All maintenance work undertaken in the pilot areas will need to comply with environmental legislation. Dealing with dredged material in certain ways will also require a waste exemption but this is free to apply for and will last for three years. Once the exemption is received, landowners and farmers will be enabled to spread silt material on their land without the need for further approval. Locally based Environment Agency officers are also available for assistance. Their details are available on the Environment Agency website (see link provided below).

On the launch of the pilots, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Owen Paterson said:

"I want to make it as simple as possible for landowners and farmers to carry out work to protect their land.

Watercourse maintenance can reduce the risk of flooding, enhance the environment and improve water quality. These pilots will make sure that people who want to carry out this kind of work can do so without getting tied up in red tape."

The pilots will cover the following seven areas:

The pilots will last for one year. The findings of maintenance pilots will be used to develop a new improved system of consents for managing river maintenance by 2015, as part of the reforms being introduced in the Water Bill.

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