The Isle of Wight Council, Island Roads and the Environment Agency are repeating the messages of the Ditch It campaign, first launched last year, to remind land and property owners what they need to do to prevent localised flooding.
Homeowners and landowners have a duty under the Highways Act to ensure adequate land and property drainage systems are in place and to stop water, vegetation and other debris from straying onto the highway. They must also ensure drainage ditches on their land are well maintained and clear of obstruction.
Anyone who has land adjacent to a watercourse (eg river or stream) has responsibilities in respect of flooding such as maintaining the bed and banks of the watercourse, clearing obstructions and maintaining flood defences.
As part of the campaign, an information leaflet has been produced that outlines these responsibilities and those of the key agencies. These are being distributed to local organisations including the NFU and the Country Landowners Association. Parish and town councils are also being made aware of the Ditch It message.
Phil Jordan, Isle of Wight Council’s Executive member for public protection and the PFI has said:
“Sometimes extreme weather and tidal conditions mean that flooding is unfortunately inevitable but there is still a lot that land and property owners can do to help reduce the risk or mitigate the effects of flooding when it does occur.
“The council, as the Lead Local Flood Authority, the Environment Agency and Island Roads all have statutory duties to help prevent and tackle flooding but the general public – particularly those whose land includes or adjoins a watercourse – also have a vital role to play.”
Paul Herbert, Island Roads service director, said:
“Throughout the year we use modern vehicles and equipment to clear drainage systems and gullies, repair defects and, of course undertake drainage schemes in areas prone to flooding such as the work currently underway at Steyne Road in Bembridge.
“The PFI funding also enables thorough maintenance and improvement work to be carried out by specialist drainage teams. All this activity not only makes the network safer to use during wet weather by draining the water away from the surface, it will also prevent the deterioration of the roads.
“In inclement weather our staff are also out and about when they are required to keep the network safe. Though Island Roads is playing its part, there is still a lot that landowners can do reduce flooding and the disruption and damage it brings. Rural roads in particular rely to a great extent on ditches to remove water and landowners need to keep them clear to ensure they are effective.
“We hope that this information campaign will assist those with a role to play in preventing the flooding of highways and that together we can reduce the problem.”
The Ditch It Leaflet which explains the responsibilities of landowners is available from the Isle of Wight Council, Island Roads and bodies including the NFU. Further information is also available at www.islandroads.com.
David Martin, the Environment Agency’s Partnership and Strategic Overview team leader for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, added:
“The Environment Agency are pleased to join together with Island Roads and the IW Council, seeing the Ditch It campaign as an important initiative.
“The proactive maintenance programme, being under taken by Island Roads, is integral to managing surface water flooding, which has the potential to affect us all at some time.
“We would also like to take this opportunity to remind those members of the public whose properties adjoin a river, of the important role they can play in reducing flood risk to themselves and others, by keeping the banks of the river clear of anything that has the potential to cause an obstruction if it is washed away.”