To reach and surpass the Environment Act’s targets, various tests and trials will need to be undertaken. Some local leaders in the Oxford to Cambridge area are committed to working across local authority boundaries and have agreed environmental principles
which support our ambition to consider water holistically. It is also known to be an area with significant existing water pressures which will be put under further pressure/exacerbated by planned (or unplanned) population growth and a changing climate - integrated water management will underpin shared ambitions for sustainable economic growth and environmental improvement.
The IWMF programme will explore how to draw together current and ongoing water, flood, natural capital, and land use planning work to create a shared understanding of issues and pressures and fully interconnected water and flood risk evidence base, and test and trial new approaches across the range of water functions. This will be used to consider water systems strategically and allow a holistic approach to decision making, solution planning for water management and wider spatial planning policy.
All learning will be fed directly into the locality and into Defra to support the delivery of the 25 Year Environment Plan (25 YEP) target of an integrated approach to managing water.
The end goal is to enable a more proactive, holistic approach to decision making and solution planning for water management infrastructure – focusing on the needs of the natural environment and ultimately avoiding reactive water management solutions that focus primarily on damage limitation.
This programme is hosted by the Environment Agency’s Oxford to Cambridge Team on behalf of the Defra Group, working closely with stakeholders across the water sector and Oxford to Cambridge geography. Embedded in strategic placemaking partnerships, this 3-year programme offers the opportunity to shape, test and trial developing mechanisms and policy approaches to help deliver a step-change in the way water, including flood risk, is managed.
Working across a multi authority area offers the opportunity to look at water management in an integrated manner across a large geographical area to test at scale solutions that require cross-boundary working. The project will work with both the Oxford to Cambridge PrP governance framework and within Defra governance structures. It is designed and managed in a way that will provide learning and approaches that are applicable more widely.
This joined-up, cross-boundary and cross-discipline collaborative approach to water will deliver a step-change in the way water and flood risk is managed.