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Partnership agreed to manage water differently in Greater Manchester

Words: Laura Edgar
Flooding / Shutterstock_122886430

Leaders in Greater Manchester have arranged a partnership which seeks to guarantee that water is managed sustainably. This will include tackling the growing risk of flooding across the region.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed between the leaders of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), the Environment Agency and United Utilities, the North West’s water company.

The MoU sets out that the three organisations will cooperate to make “progressive improvements” in sustainable water management across the city-region. They plan to enhance the natural environment and ensure that future developments and critical infrastructure are resilient to flooding and the impact of climate change.

The partnership aims to support Greater Manchester’s commitment to becoming carbon-neutral by 2038 by using nature-based solutions, biodiversity net gain and establishing a more circular economy for materials and waste.

This means reducing flood risk, improving water quality and water efficiency, and enhancing natural assets to create more liveable places and developments. According to the Environment Agency, there are 63,478 properties in the region at risk from river flooding and 162,979 properties at risk from surface water, and these threats are likely to increase in light of climate change projections. At present, the annual cost of maintaining existing flood defences for the city-region is just under £3 million.

Paul Dennett, city mayor of Salford and GMCA lead for housing, homelessness and infrastructure, said: “We have an urgent responsibility not only to prepare for these events and respond to them, but to increase resilience and do all we can to mitigate against the risk of flooding. There are already a range of actions taking place, and this new agreement with the Environment Agency and United Utilities will take that collaborative working to another level. This is a challenge that we cannot ignore, and together we can make a real difference.

“We do recognise, however, that with limited resources this is not something we can achieve on our own. We need central government to step forward and work with us, giving us the funding we need to tackle this problem. If not, more places will be exposed to the very real and growing threat of flooding.”

The combined authority said the partnership will also inform local regeneration plans and leverage funding into the region in order to create good jobs for residents through opportunities with the Environment Agency and United Utilities.

For the past four years, the three organisations have worked together on the Five-Year Environment Plan and the supporting evidence for Places for Everyone, the joint development strategy for nine of the Greater Manchester authorities.

Jo Harrison, director of environment, planning and innovation at United Utilities, said: “Strategic partnerships such as this one will play a critical role as we look to tackle climate change and the impacts it has on the region. In partnership we can work collectively to deliver resilient communities and improve the area’s natural environment and biodiversity, which will be crucial in the years to come.

“By working together we can also look to maximise innovative funding opportunities for projects across Greater Manchester and ensure that any developments are more sustainable for future generations.”

Image credit | Shutterstock