Things we have learned (5)

Relationship with local authorities, the EA and other statutory bodies


In the early days, getting plans prepared, finding supporters and arrangements for types of campaign were all important – there was only the one aim – to extend the navigation works up-river from Stourport, using weirs and traditional locks.  Initial set-backs found by uncooperative councils and other authorities were just seen as set-backs, and more time was allowed before the next submissions.  However, as the years went on, it became increasingly clear that whenever a new report was submitted, either new personnel were involved or the report was accepted as if for the first time – all reference to earlier consultations were lost or ignored.   In 1989 management of the previous Regional Water Authorities was transferred to the National Rivers Authority (NRA);  which lasted until 1996 when it was subsumed into the present Environment Agency.  Throughout this period several reports were commissioned – all from consultants who could easily have been used by the Authority, but because they were commissioned by an ‘amateur’ body such as SNRT, were not taken seriously.  Or at least it appeared that way.  Meanwhile, reports that were commissioned by the NRA, and then the EA, became more and more complex or ‘all encompassing’ – e.g. the LEAPS and the CAMS, making it a challenging job to approach technical staff without a thorough briefing. 

To be fair, over the last few years (say 2005 to 2010) several very good opportunities were enabled by both local and County councils in both Worcestershire and Shropshire.  Wyre Forest DC allowed us to have a joint meeting with EA, English Nature and the Forward Planning Dept., and at County Hall Worcester a larger meeting with representatives from the above plus some BW staff and other County staff questioned our resources and proposals for financing.  Our intentions were to raise interest and seek partners, using the recently obtained Segen Report, thinking that a proper feasibility study was the right place to start again.  Their reaction appeared to be saying that unless we had the finance in position, there was little point in involving the LAs at this stage.  The same promising opportunities in Shropshire met a similar fate.  Things were going round in circles.  A current independent proposal for hydro power at the Shrewsbury weir is finding similar problems, but we wish it well in their discussions. 

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