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MPs criticise government’s flooding strategy

Published: Thursday, 16th June 2016

Environment audit committee report urges the government to take a more proactive approach to managing flood risk…

MPs have criticised the government for a lack of a long-term strategy to deal with flooding and urged ministers to ensure better monitoring of planning conditions for schemes allowed in flood risk areas.

Those were two of the key points made in a report about flooding published by the Commons Environmental Audit Committee.

The all-party committee noted that some 10,000 homes were built in high flood-risk areas during 2013-14 but warned there were no comprehensive statistics detailing if the schemes were built according to conditions.

The MPs want the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department for Communities and Local Government to establish a systematic approach to recording whether schemes met their conditions.

The report also voiced concern that nearly one third of local flood authorities did not have a local flood risk management strategy in place.

MPs highlighted concern over local plan preparation and coverage of flooding issues after pointing that many did not reflect national planning policy guidance. Local plans lacked ambition over meeting flood risk and were not fit for purpose as they did not correspond with catchment areas, said the MPs.

The report said the government’s promised review of sustainable urban drainage systems (SuDS) should be completed at the latest in time for the consideration in the Committee of Climate Change 2017 progress report to parliament.

The Committee warned that a reactive approach to funding for flood defence had exposed the government's lack of long-term strategic planning to manage flood risk. The Committee found that funding fluctuated year-on-year. During the last parliament funding was initially cut and only increased after the winter 2013/2014 floods.

The Committee also found that the condition of critical flood defences was in decline. It recommended that the government produce an annual national flood resilience review accompanied by an action plan.

View the report

Roger Milne