MP welcomes new vision for Arun Valley
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has welcomed a report which sets out a new approach to the management of the Arun Valley, upgrading flood defences while also creating new wetland habitats for flood storage.
‘A Vision for the Arun Valley’ has been produced as the result of two years’ work by the Arun Valley Vision Group (AVVG). The Group launched the report at an event chaired by Mr Herbert, at The White Swan Hotel in Arundel on Friday (18 January).
The AVVG was set up in January 2017 on Mr Herbert’s initiative as a community partnership made up of major stakeholders in the Lower River Arun Valley. The MP said that a number of challenges, including climate change, pressures on public spending and changing agricultural and environmental policy as a result of Brexit, necessitated a new approach to management of the Valley.
The Group comprises representatives of the Environment Agency, farmers and landowners in the valley, local authorities, the South Downs National Park Authority, Natural England, the Forestry Commission, the RSPB, the Sussex Wildlife Trust and others.
The Group has worked in collaboration to develop a viable long-term vision for the management of the Valley. Their vision is based on the concept of ‘Adaptive Management’, an approach which seeks to protect key areas of importance by upgrading local flood defence structures but would also create wetland habitats for flood storage for long-term flood resilience.
The report specifies lead roles for the various agencies involved, with further work being facilitated by the South Downs National Park Authority.
Andrew Lee, Director of Countryside & Policy Management of the South Downs National Park Authority, said: “The South Downs National Park Authority strongly supports initiatives taking a landscape-scale approach. The River Arun Vision heralds two years of collaboration of a range of local partners in the development of a more sustainable future for wildlife, people and community in the Lower River Arun. We look forward to being part of helping the Vision turn into action and outcomes on the ground.”
Tom Ormesher, Environment & Land Use Adviser of the National Farmers Union South East, said: “The NFU is happy to support the proposals within the AVVG Report and I believe the document provides a very strong platform to work from.”
Peter Knight, Estate Manager of the Norfolk and Angmering Park Estates, said: “The Norfolk and Angmering Park Estates have been actively involved within the AVVG over the past two years. Flooding issues within the valley will become more self-evident not only in the long term but more importantly in the short term. The Environment Agency’s decision to cease maintenance in certain sections of the river concentrates the mind and solutions will need to be found sooner rather than later. With partnership funding having been discussed at length this still requires further investigation. Whilst not all objectives have been achieved within the time period, the group has identified amongst others the need for an organisation to take forward the foundations laid out by the group.”
Addressing the meeting, Mr Herbert said: “I would like to thank all members of the AVVG, especially the co-chairs, Dr John Godfrey and Gill Farquharson, for your hard work and the quality of your report. I will send the report to the Secretary of State for Environment and Rural Affairs, Michael Gove, pointing out that the proposed landscape-scale approach to the management of the Arun Valley has the support of key stakeholders and is consistent with the Government‘s approach to environmental management and the future shape of the farm payments system.
"The more that there can be a coherent view involving lots of different partners, the stronger the case that we can make to government bodies. The strength of this group and this report is that it has brought together people that didn't necessarily share the same view about how the valley should be managed in future, but it has got everybody sitting down together in the same room.
“I would encourage everybody to continue the work together, even if you have slightly different views. What unites us is that we all live here, work here and really care about this valley. Together, I think we can ensure this beautiful part of this world is maintained."
The report can be read at www.avvg.co.uk.
1. Photograph front: Cover image from ‘A Vision for the Arun Valley’ report.
2. Photograph above: Arun Valley Vision Group with Nick Herbert (centre) at the report launch at The White Swan, Arundel.
3. To read Nick’s news release ‘New community group to set out vision for River Arun’ see https://www.nickherbert.com/news-releases/2018/1/24/new-community-group-to-set-out-vision-for-river-arun?rq=vision.