FUW LEADS MOVES TO SET UP NEW DRAINAGE BOARDS
The Farmers' Union of Wales is backing a bid by farmers in Meirionnydd to run their own Internal Drainage Districts (IDDs) following reports that Environment Agency Wales (EAW) is considering disbanding several IDDs under Welsh Government Single Body consultations.
This was greeted with alarm by farmers at an FUW Meirionnydd county meeting in Dolgellau attended by local AM Dafydd Elis Thomas.
Seven of the 11 IDDs currently run by EAW are in Meirionnydd and one option is for groups to establish Internal Drainage Boards (IDBs) independent of EAW.
During a well-attended meeting in Dolgellau - organised by the FUW's Meirionnydd branch - farmers gave unanimous support to the idea of setting up their own IDB for the county and for other IDDs in North Wales.
Detailed consideration was given to the current Welsh Government consultation on the future delivery of the functions of IDBs and IDDs.
"There were representatives present from the majority of the IDDs in Meirionnydd and the good attendance was a reflection of the importance of continuing the work within the IDDs, mainly the maintenance and improvements of the drainage system, works to alleviate flooding and some capital works," said FUW county executive officer Huw Jones.
"Reference was also made to controlling activities in and alongside the drainage system to ensure that flood risk management and land drainage standards are not impaired."
Seven of the 11 EAW-administered IDDs are in Meirionnydd and include Ardudwy marsh, Dysynni Valley, Glaslyn and Pensyflog, Harlech and Maentwrog, Llanfrothen, Mawddach and Wnion and Tywyn.
"Farmers were alarmed to read that EAW are considering the viability of a number of IDDs under their administration with a view to removing the designation from some areas.
"One of the options in the paper is the possibility that individuals may come forward with a view to establishing dedicated IDBs and taking the role on in place of the agency.
"Members discussed the benefits of the governance of IDBs, namely that land owners/occupiers (the ratepayers) are elected on to the board and local authorities appoint members to the board as representatives of the wider community.
"This ensures that the local community can govern the management of their own water landscape in these specially designated areas."
Mr Thomas reported on the current position on the setting up of the Single Environment (Natural Resources Body) and supported those farmers who wished to set up an IDB.
FUW county chairman Olwen Ford said there was unanimous support to look further into the option of establishing an IDB in Meirionnydd and for other IDDs in North Wales.
She would be pleased if the FUW could assist in facilitating or being a catalyst for change.
Glyn Griffiths, of Bodlondeb, Rhyd, near Penrhyndeudraeth, who has already chaired a meeting of farmers in the Llanfrothen and Glaslyn Pensyflog areas, reported that a decision had been made to move ahead to establish an IDB, although he accepted it had to be with the co-operation of farmers in other IDDs.
It was finally decided that arrangements should be made in September to contact farmers by letter to consider this issue further and Mr Jones was asked to liaise with EAW.
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