Future Fens; Flood Risk Management in the Great Ouse Fens
Despite the Old Nene flowing through the heart of the district, these days the Middle Level is part of the catchment of the River Great Ouse, the fourth longest river in England.
In recognition of the fact that future flood management decisions in the Great Ouse Fens could no longer continue to be taken by individual organisations in isolation and that collectively authorities were not championing the Fens in a sufficiently impactful way with government, locally the Environment Agency, through the Anglian (Great Ouse) Regional Flood & Coastal Committee brought all flood Risk Management Authorities together like never before. The Middle Level Commissioners were part of this pioneering approach.
Phase 1 was focused on ‘baselining’, to gain a common understanding of the complex flood management system in the Great Ouse Fens through a suite of investment and risk assessments. The work is presented on the Association of Drainage Authorities website here and within the reports below.
The investment summary for the Middle Level sub-area of the Great Ouse Fens is presented below.
Whilst being only a starting point for the long-term investment decisions needed in the Great Ouse Fens as we adapt to a changing climate, this work (along with supporting Tactical Plans) has enabled the Middle Level Commissioners, IDBs and the Environment Agency to maximise eligibility for government grant funding into the 2030s, for continued investment to sustain the standards of service of existing pumps, banks, sluices and other assets.
The next stages of Future Fens; Flood Risk Management in the Great Ouse Fens will be driven forward under the umbrella of Fens 2100+.
The National Flood & Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy and the Fens
As Risk Management Authorities, under the Floods & Water Management Act (2010), the Middle Level Commissioners and IDBs have a statutory duty to act consistently with the National FCERM Strategy. The strategy sets the direction of travel for all flood Risk Management Authorities in terms of flood resilience, adaptation to climate change and enabling sustainable community and business growth.
The strategy also represents a step-change in national commitment to rural places such as the Middle Level. As part of this there is a specific focus on the Fens, which is the only local area to have a specific measure within the strategy. This commitment would not have been made without the pioneering Great Ouse Fens baselining work.
Measure 1.5.4: By 2025 the Environment Agency will work with farmers, land managers, water companies, internal drainage boards and other partners to develop a long-term plan for managing future flood risk in the Fens.
The Environment Agency have secured government grant to develop a circa £10 million programme of activity to drive the long-term decision making for the circa 80 Risk Management Authorities across the whole of the Fens, delivering on the unique commitment to the Fens within the National FERM Strategy. This is called Fens 2100+ – For further information please see this web-portal and follow @Fens2100 on X (Twitter).
The ambition of Fens 2100+ is to secure and enhance regional and local flood infrastructure investment delivery in terms of efficiency and effectiveness, through:
- Whole systems thinking and making choices visible
- Overcoming fragmented governance
- Managing deep uncertainty
- Focusing on outcome-led and place-based approaches at a landscape scale
- Adopting measures that enhance resilience and integration (now and in the future)
- Addressing funding and finance
- Enhancing adaptive capacities of all delivery partners
Key deliverables will focus on:
- Adaptation Investment Decision Making Framework at a landscape scale
- Fen2100+ Adaptation (pathways) investment blueprint(s), heatmaps (prioritisation) and guidance
- A full set of Baseline reports for all the Fens catchments
- Phase 1 Investment Plans (2027-2033) including route-map and business case