Issue details

Grant Agreements to WWT & NFF 2023/24

Purpose of Significant Decision:

Extension of grant agreements with Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) and National Flood Forum (NFF) to support project delivery of the Smart, Sponge Catchments Project into a second grant period of 2023/24.


The Council is in receipt of an award of up to £7.9m of capital grant funding to deliver the Smart, Sponge Catchments project as Lead Authority. This project is funded by Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) as part of the £150 million Flood and Coastal Resilience Innovation Programme which is managed by the Environment Agency to develop and test new approaches to resilience tailored to local communities.

The grant funding is for a six-year partnership project from the grant award in April 2021 through to the end of 2026/27. The Council is the lead project partner to oversee project management, financial management, procurement and reporting to the Environment Agency. The partnership is with Buckinghamshire Council, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, National Flood Forum, Thames Water Utilities, Thames 21 and the regional Environment Agency.

The project vision is: Improving resilience to flooding by placing people and nature at the heart of solutions in the Salt Hill and Chalvey Ditches river catchments

The project objectives are:

1. Over the duration of the project, deliver improved surface water flood resilience through strategic retrofitting of nature-based solutions, across the Salt Hill Stream and Chalvey Ditches catchments
2. By the end of the project, develop strategies, tools and resources that will support key stakeholders to work collaboratively to create more sustainable and enriched public places and improve future flood resilience.
3. Test models of engagement and understanding that empower people to be at the heart of decision-making, and to co-create and deliver community-based solutions;
4. Implement monitoring and evaluation of interventions to gather robust evidence, by the end of the project, of impacts for dissemination to stakeholders.

Cabinet Approval

A paper was presented to Cabinet in November 2022 to provide information about the capital grant award to the Council for the project. Approval for sought to continue with the project and to enter into grant agreements with WWT and NFF to support delivery of the Project. The Cabinet decision:

1. Agreed to continuance of the project (subject to grant funding) with the Council as Lead Authority for project management, noting in particular the partnership approach, the proposed procurement strategy and governance arrangements;

2. Delegated authority to the Executive Director – Place and Communities, in consultation with the Lead Member for Transport & The Local Environment to:

(a) Enter into the grant agreements with Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) and National Flood Forum (NFF);

(b) Approve extensions and variations to the grant agreements to WWT and NFF, subject to available grant funding, for the life of the project through to April 2027, encompassing extensions for 2023/24, 2024/25, 2025/26 and 2026/7 financial years.

Supporting National and Local Policies:

• The Flood and Water Management Act 2010 places a statutory duty on the Environment Agency to develop a National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy for England. This strategy describes what needs to be done by all risk management authorities (RMAs), including the Environment Agency, lead local flood authorities, district councils, internal drainage boards, highways authorities and water and sewerage companies. Each must exercise their flood and coastal erosion risk management (FCERM) activities, including plans and strategies, consistently with the strategy.
• The Council, as defined by the 2010 Act, is a Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA) and as such is responsible for developing, maintaining and applying a strategy for local flood risk management. A LLFA must maintain a register of their flood risk assets and has a duty in investigate flood incidents to the extent that it considers it necessary or appropriate. The LLFA are responsible for flooding from surface water, groundwater and Ordinary Watercourses.
• The Environment Agency’s 2020 National FCERM Strategy recognises that it is not possible to eliminate the risk of all flooding and coastal change and focuses on better protecting properties and reducing the impacts of flooding on people’s lives and livelihoods, through improved resilience. The strategy directs authorities to work with partners to deliver practical and innovative actions to bolster resilience to floods in local places and make greater use of nature-based solutions that take a catchment led approach to managing the flow of water in both floods and droughts. This project is therefore in alignment with the direction of the National Strategy.

Decision type: Non-key

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Notice of proposed decision first published: 01/02/2024

Decision due: 15 Dec 2023 by Executive Director - Regeneration, Housing and Environment

Lead member: Lead Member for Environment, Environmental Services and Open Spaces

Contact: Nicholas Pontone, Principal Democratic Services Officer Email: Tel: 01753 875120.