ARCHIVE: Regional Flood Defence Committees
- 22 July 2010: Regional Flood Defence Committee (RFDCs) Chair and Member vacancies announced.
The EA is required to arrange for all its flood defence functions (except certain financial ones) to be carried out by Regional Flood Defence Committees (RFDCs). Flood defence is legally defined as the drainage of land (with drainage being defined as including defence against water, including sea water; irrigation, other than spray irrigation; warping; and the carrying on, for any purpose, of any other practice which involves the management of the level of water in a watercourse) and the provision of flood warning systems. In practice RFDCs are mainly concerned with the regulation and improvement of watercourses to alleviate the flooding of land or property; the maintenance or improvement of sea and tidal defences; and the provision of flood warning systems.
In order to carry out these functions the EA through the RFDCs has various statutory powers including the following:
- to maintain or improve any watercourses which are designated as main rivers;
- to maintain or improve any sea or tidal defences;
- to install and operate flood warning equipment;
- to control actions by riparian owners and occupiers which might interfere with the free flow of watercourses;
- to supervise internal drainage boards.
It follows from the above that RFDCs are required to take an interest in all flood matters in their area and in particular to take decisions about the annual programmes of improvement and maintenance work to be carried out by the Agency. They must also decide on such matters as the extension of main rivers, the making and operation of land drainage byelaws and various issues affecting any internal drainage boards in their area. They are required annually to approve estimates of expenditure and to determine the amounts to be levied by the Agency on constituent councils.
Section 15(1) of the Environment Act 1995 provides that each RFDC must consist of the following, none of whom shall be a member of the Environment Agency:
- a chair and a number of other members appointed by the Secretary of State;
- two members appointed by the EA; and
- a number of members (sufficient to form a bare majority on the RFDC) appointed by or on behalf of constituent councils.
In appointing a person to be the Chair or a member of the RFDC the Secretary of State or constituent council is required to "have regard to the desirability of appointing a person who has experience of, and has shown capacity in, some matter relevant to the functions of the committee".
Although the Act does not require the Secretary of State to appoint members on a geographical basis, in practice he tries to ensure that membership is spread over the whole of an RFDC's area. This means, that in addition to their general responsibilities members are expected to have some knowledge of and take special interest in the flood defence problems of that part of the area in which they live.
If you are interested in learning more about what it is like to be a member of a Regional Flood Defence Committee, take a look at Issue 6 (PDF 1MB) of the Cabinet Office Public Appointments newsletter where Justin Olosundé, a member of the South West Regional Flood Defence Committee, relates his experiences. If you are interested in being notified of future vacancies on the committee in your region, pls send your name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The frequency and timing of RFDC meetings varies from committee to committee. Generally speaking they are held quarterly during working hours at the EA's principal office in the region. The meetings are serviced by officers of the Agency.
One of the members of each Committee is appointed by the Secretary of State specifically to represent environmental interests. Defra hosts bi-annual meetings of the conservation representatives in order keep them up to date with policy developments, and to provide a forum for representatives to share best practice and common concerns.
Regional Committee Chair North West Mr. Sinclair McLeod Northumbria Mr Francis Major Midlands Mr Timothy Farr Yorkshire Mr Tim Cole (Mr Arthur Baker from 1/4/2010) Anglian Northern Region Mr Robert Caudwell Anglian Central Region Mr Stephen Wheatley Anglian Eastern Region Mr Anthony Coe Thames Ms Amanda Nobbs Southern Mr Michael Bateman Wessex Mr Alan Lovell South West Dr Clive Gronow Wales1 Mr Geraint Davies
1Has some cross-border flood management responsibility in England but National Assembly for Wales appoints Chair.
modified: 23 July 2010
Page published: 10 December 2007