Local views on the future of the River Severn invited

20 Sep 2023 12:42 PM

The Environment Agency is inviting residents in the River Severn area to join a Citizens’ Panel on the Future of Our Rivers.

  • The residents’ recommendations will help inform decision-making to tackle the growing challenge of extreme weather events in the area
  • 20 people will be selected to take part in the panel

Nearly 6,000 homes near the River Severn will receive a letter this week from the Environment Agency inviting them to join a new Citizens’ Panel to discuss water management and climate change impacts in the area and help create a positive future for the river and its tributaries.

The River Severn is the longest river in Britain and forms an integral part of life for those who live around it. It is a haven for wildlife, an essential transport route, a great place for leisure activities and a vital source of water for people living and working in its catchment.

With the increasing challenges of flooding and drought, the Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales (Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru) and the River Severn Partnership are working together to gather residents’ opinions on how to manage these issues and when.

The Citizens’ Panel is looking for 20 participants across the area in England and Wales and their recommendations will be shared with all three partners to inform future decision-making.

Registrations are open until Sunday 8 October and details are included in the letter that randomly selected households have received. Participants don’t need any prior knowledge but need to be willing to commit to a total of 12 hours over several workshops.

Marc Lidderth, Place Manager and River Severn Partnership lead for the Environment Agency said:

“This is a fantastic opportunity for those who live near to the River Severn and its tributaries to help inform the plans of the Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales (Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru), and other local partners to meet the challenge of extreme weather events and their impact.

“We want to hear from a diverse range of local people across the catchment on their personal views about climate change, the impacts of severe weather and to share their lived experience. I look forward to hearing what the panel has to say to build recommendations for how we tackle the climate challenges we face.”

What is a Citizens’ Panel?

This Citizens’ Panel will follow an established democratic process that is used all over the world. It brings together a randomly selected group of people who broadly represent the entire community. The people who attend learn about issues, discuss them with one another, and then make recommendations about what should happen and how things should change.

Who is running the event?

The Environment Agency has commissioned this Citizens’ Panel to consider how we can adapt flood risk management plans over the coming years to help local places become more resilient to flooding.

Wilson Sherriff are specialists in facilitating this type of discussion. Their role will be to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard and to help the group find common ground.

The Sortition Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation that specialises in recruiting and selecting people by lottery to take part in these kinds of events, in a way that is broadly representative of the wider population.

After I register my interest, what happens next?

Once registration has closed, 20 people will be selected by lottery from those who registered their interest, to take part in the event.

The lottery process is done in a particular way to make sure that there are people from across the community attending.