We Asked, You Said, We Did

Below are some of the issues we have recently consulted on and their outcomes.

We asked

We asked for your opinions and comments on the potential options to extend the beach netting fishing for sea trout in Yorkshire and the North East.

You said

We received 562 online responses to the consultation. 93% opposed an extension of the current netting season and 7% were in favour.

We did

Having reviewed the evidence and all consultation responses we find it is not appropriate to recommend an extension to the sea trout netting season at this time. 

We asked

The consultation on the application to accept low level radioactive wastes at the Port Clarence landfill site took place from 20 September 2019 to 31 January 2020. It provided the opportunity for the public, professional bodies and stakeholders, to provide comments on the application.

You said

We have received 2329 responses to the consultation from various stakeholders. There were only 13 responses in support of the application. The responses included various comments and questions which have been summarised in the Summary of consultation responses document which can be found below.

We did

We are currently assessing the application and the consultation responses will be considered as part of this assessment. We expect a decision on the application to be made sometime in 2021 and will run a new consultation at that stage.

We asked

We are planning to have stopped all our flood risk management (FRM) activities between Pallingham Weir and Pulborough in the Arun Valley, West Sussex by the end of 2021

We asked for your views on:

  • what impact our stopping our FRM activities has on you
  • what you regard as a reasonable notice period in order to make alternative FRM arrangements
  • options for FRM activities when we stop our flood risk management activities in this area
  • any other issues or concerns you have in relation to this plan.

You said

You said it would be difficult to bring so many different landowners together and provide the ongoing required maintenance that we currently provide.

You challenged the cost benefit of stopping inspection and maintenance.  You suggested we should ‘do minimum’ rather than ‘do nothing’.

You were concerned that stopping maintenance will have an adverse effect downstream and will increase the risk of flooding.

You said it was essential that a statutory management system for the whole of the tidal river from Pulborough to Littlehampton be put in place, and not just sections of the river.

You recommended that implementing ‘do nothing’ be put on hold whilst we reappraise the flood risks associated with SU1.

You said that 12 to 24 months was a reasonable notice period to allow for alternative arrangements to be put in place.

We did

As a result of the feedback from the online consultation:

Whilst stopping our FRM activities in SU1 remains our objective, we are no longer aiming to stop them by the end of 2021.

We will now:

  • carry out an assessment of any possible impacts stopping our FRM activities could have on the designated sites and features in the Arun Valley sites and implement appropriate mitigation measures agreed with Natural England. In doing so we will consult with Natural England and all affected and interested parties.
  • undertake more detailed investigations of specific FRM activities and will continue the activity at particular locations if it is confirmed as economic at those locations.
  • continue to work with those affected to ensure plans are in place to resolve outstanding issues before or during the notice period.
  • continue to engage with the community through the Arun Valley Vision Group.
  • issue all riparian landowners/tenants with a formal letter giving at least 12 months’ notice of the date after which our FRM activities will stop and inform other interested parties.

Our current FRM activities are:

  • removing fallen trees and blockages in the channel that could increase flood risk. We also clear any vegetation that builds up at Stopham Bridge which may restrict river flow.
  • inspecting all riverbanks and FRM structures in accordance with Environment  Agency asset inspection guidelines (for example low risk sites every 5 years).
  • maintaining Stopham Sluice, an outfall on the River Arun 195m south of the Pulborough Garden Centre and A283 Stopham Road.
  • carrying out public safety and health and safety inspections of Stopham sluice and a further privately maintained outfall on a public footpath just downstream of the Stopham Sluice.
  • referring any FRM concerns with regard to all other riverbanks and FRM structures which fail the asset inspection to riparian landowners/tenants for their action
  • referring any concerns with regard to flood risk caused by 6 bridges and 1 aqueduct built on the riverbanks to West Sussex County Council or Southern Water Services Limited respectively for their action.

 

We asked

In October 2018, Sellafield Ltd applied for a number of changes to its Radioactive Substances Activities environmental permit, mainly to reflect the operator's forecast reductions in radioactive discharges and changing focus from reprocessing to decommissioning. We consulted on Sellafield Ltd’s application from 26 October to 21 December 2018. We took those responses into account in our determination of the application. We then consulted on a draft decision and draft permit from 7 October to 1 December 2019.

You said

The consultation responses from professional partners were positive regarding changes to Sellafield Ltd’s radioactive substances permit. Some stakeholders raised issues of concern; these are fully addressed in our final decision document, which can be found under "Files" below.

We did

We have varied Sellafield Ltd’s radioactive substances permit, to implement all of the changes as detailed in our final decision document. The key changes to the permit are:

  • Significantly reducing site discharge limits and introducing a 2-tier (upper and lower) site discharge limit structure
  • Removing some site discharge limits where discharges have fallen below significant levels and they do not meet our criteria for setting limits
  • Replacing plant discharge limits with plant notification levels so that Sellafield Ltd can make most effective use of the available discharge routes and treatment plants
  • Removing discharge limits related to the rate of fuel reprocessing (throughput) to reflect the end of reprocessing operations.

UPDATE: This permit variation (V009) was due to come into effect on 1 April 2020. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Sellafield Ltd was not able to make the changes required to implement the variation (V009) on that date.

As a result, Sellafield Ltd applied for and was issued with another variation (V010) on 27 March 2020 to change the date on which the permit comes into effect to 1 October 2020. The only change was a delay in the effective date.

We withdrew the previous variation (V009) and Sellafield Ltd continued to operate under its existing permit variation (V008) during the interim period.

On 24 September 2020 we issued a further variation (V011) to introduce a limit on the concentration of tritium activity for waste disposals to the Calder Landfill Extension Segregated Area (CLESA) landfill on the Sellafield site. All consignments of waste to CLESA are already subject to a permit limit for activity concentration. This variation allows an activity concentration specifically for tritium that is higher than for other radionuclides. We are satisfied that the contribution of tritium to the total dose is within acceptable levels.

We are permitting this to allow greater flexibility in disposing of waste containing tritium to CLESA which means decommissioning can progress more quickly. High tritium activity items will also be subject to Best Available Technique (BAT) assessments.

This change formed part of the original application in October 2018 and we consulted on it, and determined it, as part of our decision on permit variation V009. The reason we did not implement this change in V009 was that it required further consideration by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in relation to Article 37 of the Euratom treaty. Article 37 requires the UK to provide information on plans for disposal of radioactive waste to the European Commission (EC).

We confirmed with BEIS that Article 37 requires the UK to notify the EC of this change in permitted disposal of radioactive waste, but does not require an opinion from the EC prior to permitting the disposal. We have received confirmation from BEIS that the EC has been formally notified. This means that we are now able to implement this permit variation.

This variation (V011) immediately supersedes V010 as it has the same implementation date of 1 October 2020. There are no other changes between V010 and V011.

For further information on how we regulate the Sellafield site please see: www.gov.uk

We asked

The proposed local government reorganisations in Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire, planned from April 2020, will create new unitary authorities. As a result, the existing Composition of the Thames Regional Flood and Coastal Committee will need to be varied to accommodate these changes, as the existing Lead Local Flood Authorities (LLFAs) for these areas will no longer exist. 

Do you agree with the proposed changes to the Thames Regional Flood and Coastal Committee composition?

You said

Stakeholders agreed with the proposed changes to the Thames Regional Flood and Coastal Committee composition.

We did

The responses to the Consultation were carefully considered and reviewed by the Thames Regional Flood and Coastal Committee at their Meeting on the 10th July 2019. Details of the Meeting are located here.
The Committee agreed to the Proposals to the Variation to the Composition of the Thames Regional Flood and Coastal Committee that was to be submitted in two parts (Phase 1 and Phase 2) for Ministerial approval. 

We asked

Proposals
• No changes to the number of EA or LLFA Members or to the LLFAs sharing seats.
• Given the near 50:50 split of tax base across the two new unitary authorities in Northamptonshire within the Anglian (Northern) RFCC area, the existing three seats for Northamptonshire are proposed to be split. Each new authority will have their own seat and they will also share a third seat between themselves.

You said

All stakeholders who responded agreed that the Anglian (Northern) Regional Flood and Coastal Committee should divide the allocation of the three voting seats in Northamptonshire as follows: Each new unitary authority to have their own voting seat and the third will be shared between the unitary authorities.

Options for sharing the third seat:

Option 1 - Third seat rotates on an annual basis between the two unitary authorities: 2 out of the 4 responses.
Option 2 - Third voting seat is appointed by, or on behalf of, the two unitary authorities: 1 out of the 4 responses.
Option 3 - Other: 1 out of the 4 responses.
Summary of relevant key points raised:
• This is consistent with the system used to rotate the voting seat shared between Lincolnshire and North Lincolnshire.
• It should be up to all councils who have shared seats to make this decision.

We did

The local government reorganisation in Northamptonshire was postponed from April 2020 to April 2021.
The responses to the Consultation will be carefully considered and reviewed by the Anglian (Northern) Regional Flood and Coastal Committee in 2020. The Committees decision on the Variation to the Composition of the Anglian (Northern) Regional Flood and Coastal Committee will then be submitted for approval by the Environment Agency FCRM Committee and subsequently submitted to the Minister of State for consideration and approval before 1st December 2020. Enactment of the approved Variation to the Composition will be from 1st April 2021.

We asked

The consultation focussed on two main areas:
• Two options for the Variation to the Composition of the Anglian (Central) Regional Flood and Coastal Committee.
• Proposed name change form Anglian (Central) Regional Flood and Coastal Committee to Anglian (Great Ouse) Regional Flood and Coastal Committee.

You said

The majority of stakeholders were in favour of better reflecting spread of Tax Base across Lead Local Flood Authorities, and that the Anglian (Central) Regional Flood and Coastal Committee should change the shared seats to a Partnership approach. There was also very strong support for the new title for the Regional Flood and Coastal Committee.

We did

The responses to the Consultation were carefully considered and reviewed by the Anglian (Central) Regional Flood and Coastal Committee at their Meeting on the 18th July 2019. Details of the Meeting are located here.
Composition of the RFCC
The Committee decided that 'Better reflecting spread of Tax Base across Lead Local Flood Authorities' would be submitted in two parts (Phase 1 and Phase 2) for Ministerial approval. 

Name of the RFCC
The Anglian (Central) Regional Flood and Coastal Committee recommended a change of name of the RFCC to Anglian (Great Ouse) Regional Flood and Coastal Committee. The Environment Agency agreed to apply Regulation 5 of The Regional Flood and Coastal Committees (England and Wales) Regulations 2011 and the name was changed from October 2019.

We asked

The consultation on the application to vary the Lillyhall landfill site permit took place from 4 March 2019 to 6 May 2019. It provided the opportunity for the public, professional bodies and stakeholders to provide comments on the application.

You said

We have received eight responses to the consultation from various stakeholders. There was one objection and one in support of the application. The remainder of the responses included various comments and questions which have been summarised in the Lillyhall variation: Summary of consultation responses document (found below under ‘Files’).

We did

We are currently assessing the application and the consultation responses will be considered as part of this assessment. We expect a decision to be made by the Spring 2021.

We asked

Given interest in the river coarse fish close season, the Environment Agency ran a public consultation from 14 January 2019 for 12 weeks to gather any further evidence to help determine if there was a case for changing the byelaw and to understand stakeholder concerns around three options: to retain, amend or remove the close season.

You said

The consultation generated 13,680 responses.

No additional substantive evidence emerged from the consultation. Fifty percent of respondents support removing the close season; 39% support retaining the current close season; and 9% support retaining a close season, but with different dates (four weeks later and two weeks shorter). Those national representative organisations that responded, along with Natural England, supported retaining the close season (The Angling Trust responded, but adopted a neutral position).

Please read the full report on the consultation feedback by clicking on the link below.

Coarse fishing close season on English rivers - public consultation report - Dec 2019, 2.1 MB (PDF document)

We did

The Environment Agency will retain the coarse fishing close season on English rivers.

The existing evidence indicates that removing the close season would pose risk to at least some coarse fish species in some locations.

The Environment Agency will continue to consider new information on the close season as and when it becomes available.

We asked

For a variety of stakeholders including local interest groups, industry and academia to comment on consultation documents relating to a second remediation notice for groundwater pollution from Contaminated Land at St Leonard's Court, Sandridge, Hertfordshire.

You said

  • No objection to the proposals outlined
  • Supported further scavenge pumping and additional monitoring boreholes

We did

Following the consultation, we amended the draft remediation notice. In July 2019 we served a second remediation notice. Both parties appealed and requested the matter be heard at a public inquiry. The Planning Inspectorate, Environment Agency, Crest, and Redland have agreed a period of abeyance to discuss a voluntary scheme of remediation. Crest and Redland continue to carry out the ‘Scavenge Pumping’ during these discussions.

We asked

The consultation on the draft North West Regional Flood and Coastal Committee Business Plan 2019 – 2022 took place from 7th December 2018 to 8th February 2019.

The consultation provided the opportunity for the public, professional bodies, stakeholders, and current and potential partners to provide feedback to help shape the final Business Plan to be published in Summer 2019.

You said

The results of the public consultation indicated there was overwhelming support for the North West RFCC and the proposals laid out in the Business Plan. 

Consultation responses are available on the Floodhub and by clicking here.

We did

We reviewed the responses to the consultation and used these to shape the final Business Plan, which was reworked to take account of the responses received as far as is felt appropriate and feasible. Below is a summary of enhancements:

  • We made the Business Plan shorter and more concise, moving some of the detail, particularly that which will change over time, to the Flood Hub website
  • We considered whether a 3-year timeframe was still appropriate and clarified how this relates to longer term goals
  • We simplified the presentation of our aims (mission statement, themes, goals, objectives, broad actions etc.)
  • We increased the emphasis on coastal flood risk and erosion management throughout the Plan
  • We referenced development of the Flood Hub

The Business Plan was formally approved by the North West Regional Flood and Coastal Committee at the meeting on 19th July 2019. The final plan is now available on the Floodhub, which can be viewed by clicking here.

We asked

This consultation on the shortlist of options for the new Saltfleet to Gibraltar Point Strategy took place in 2018 and is now closed.

A new consultation on the draft strategy takes place between 3 June and 25 August 2019.

You can find more information on this consultation as well as an online survey to submit your views through by visiting https://consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/lincolnshire-and-northamptonshire/sgp/

Your responses will go towards shaping a strategy that will be implemented in 2021.

You said

The results of the public consultation indicated that sand nourishment and a combination of sand nourishment and rock structures, were the preferred approaches. Coarser sand, shingle or pebbles was the least preferred option.

 

We did

Your responses, along with the results of the Strategic Environmental Assessment and our own analysis, have helped us to deliver a draft strategy. This will be going out to public consultation in 2019.