Dismay at government response to flood prevention proposals

MPs have attacked the government’s ‘sub-standard’ response to calls for a radical overhaul of flood risk management.

A report published in November by the environment, food and rural affairs select committee outlined a raft of recommendations to tackle England’s ‘fragmented, inefficient and ineffective flood management’.

But in its response to the report, the government rejected the majority of proposals, saying : ‘We do not agree that there is a need for substantial change to the existing national and local governance provisions for flood risk management.’

It added that the current system had achieved ‘notable successes including securing better protection for more than 500,000 properties since 2005’.

The select committee had called on the government to develop ‘robust long-term plans and to fundamentally overhaul governance and streamline delivery of flood risk management’.

This should include requiring local authorities to publish annual summaries of planning decisions approved against Environment Agency advice, it said. MPs also want to see tighter controls over new development, such as forcing developers to provide redress where development not meeting planning conditions causes increased flood risk.

The government said it was concerned how these measures would work in practice and argued that ‘robust planning policies are in place to avoid and control development in flood risk areas’.

Ministers ‘must give’ more detail

MPs said the grounds for rejecting many of their proposals was ‘deficient’.

Jim Fitzpatrick, acting chair of the environment, food and rural affairs select committee, said: ‘People living in areas of flood risk need to be reassured that the government is acting to improve our disjointed flood management system.

‘Defra has failed to give sufficient justification for its rejection of our recommendations for important new measures to improve flood protection. Ministers must give us more detailed information on how the government is using its £2.5bn flood defence budget to slow the flow of water across river catchments so as to stop communities flooding in future.

‘Ministers must also update us on their actions to ensure that the insurance, planning and building regulation regimes reduce flood risk and improve property resilience.’

In light of the government’s response, the committee has called on Defra to provide information by the end of next month on how much of the £2.5bn flood risk management programme for 2015-21 includes natural approaches.

  • Read Andy Nolan’s response to the original report here

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