Dauntsey Parish Council has successfully combined local knowledge with Ordnance Survey digital maps to help it undertake a professional analysis of local flood impacts and risks, and to inform the way that statutory organisations maintain the water courses in its area.
The Parish of Dauntsey, in north Wiltshire, experienced serious flooding in July 2007, when 44 of its homes were affected. This small Parish, with a population of 532, concluded that it should undertake its own analysis of the issues and it must engage in a professional way with the Environment Agency, Highways Agency and principal local authority if it was to influence how they maintained the water courses, culverts and drains in the area.
The Parish Council therefore decided to explore Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and digital mapping, as a means to producing accurate and professional looking maps. Initially, they negotiated a sub-contractor licence from their principal authority, which provided access to Ordnance Survey data. However, since 2011 they have their own Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA) licence from Ordnance Survey. One of its Councillors manages this data using open source QGIS software.
After 2007, the Parish was told that the main flood risk concerns were in nearby towns like Malmesbury and Chippenham. However, using their GIS they were able to establish that more homes had been affected in Dauntsey Parish than anywhere else in the county.
The Parish Council also created digital maps to illustrate the extent of the 2007 flooding and, from walking round the Parish, were able to mark-up online, all of the drains, culverts and minor water courses. Not only that, they added information about the capacity of these waterways, so they could see where problems were most likely to arise, plus information showing which body was responsible for maintaining each waterway. As a result they have a prioritised list of local problems and which organisation is responsible for fixing them.
The GIS analysis has been used for various related tasks, including:
- Assisting affected households to pursue their flooding compensation claims.
- Assessing the flood implications of planning applications, by using the GIS to calculate the impermeable area that new housing and driveways would create.
Helping other parish councils downstream to understand the water courses flowing through their areas.
- The Parish Council’s use of professional looking maps meant that its evidence on flooding was taken more seriously.
- They could receive and share geographic data with the other statutory organisations.
- They were able to analyse local water courses and flood impacts across its area.
- As a result the Highways Agency has significantly altered its maintenance programme by bringing in annual inspections and improved maintenance contracts.
- The Parish Council now works more closely with the Wiltshire Council maintenance team, which is saving effort and time.