MP’s Find Government Flood Development Plans Inadequate

In an inquiry into Government’s National Flood Development Plans, a committee of MP’s find a lack of proactive measures to implement, track and report on flood prevention measures on a national and local level.

Major flooding events, such as those caused by storms Desmond, Eva and Frank in December 2015 and January 2016, act as a trigger for the Government to hold a review to establish how to better protect the UK against future flooding. This year was no exception, and in January the Government launched the “National Flood Resilience Review”.

In response to this review, a committee of MP’s recently published the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee Flooding Report. The report is a result of their inquiry that looked into actions taken by Government and other relevant bodies involved in flood risk management to mitigate the impacts of flood events. In particular, it focused on reviewing the Governments investment and planning for improving flood protection, to ensure money is being spent efficiently on sustainable flood defences.

The resulting report was less than complimentary in it’s findings, especially in regard to how the Government appears to adopt a somewhat reactive approach to improving flood defences.

“Overall, we found that there was a lack of effective long-term strategic planning about how to manage flood risk. Despite efforts to improve, the Government appears to be reactive rather than proactive.”

With flooding becoming an increasing and regular possibility for many properties, this report highlights the risk that many homes continue to face with inadequate preventative measures in place.

As builders who specialise in the repair and restoration of property following flood damage we’ve seen the devastation and disruption flood causes both homes and businesses. Life is thrown into chaos as properties are evacuated, irreplaceable personal possessions are lost, essential support services are closed and important infrastructure is made inaccessible.

We look forward to hearing the Government’s response to this report and strongly support the initiative to improve protection of those who are vulnerable to flooding.

Key findings of the report include:

  • Insured losses caused by the flooding in December 2015 and January 2016 totalled £1.3 billion.
  • Government spending on flooding fluctuates year-on-year, usually increasing in response to a flooding disaster.
  • The Worsfold Review demonstrated a relationship between flood maintenance spending and the good condition of critical flood defences. As funding for these defences fell so did the number of those that met the Environment Agency’s required condition.
  • Government have committed to spending £2.3 billion on building new defences. But the committee are skeptical of it reaching it’s target of protecting 300,000 properties due to an optimistic forecast that relies on “optimal efficiency in spending decisions”.
  • The 2016 budget announced an additional £700 million of funding – though this may not be allocated in the same methods of the £2.3 billion which could result in poor decision making in flood investment and geographically unfair outcomes.
  • Significant infrastructure is not currently protected to a consistent standard.
  • National policy in place for flooding events is not always being translated through to local authority level.
  • Almost 10,000 properties were built in high flood risk areas in 2013/14.
  • There is concern that whilst the Environment Agency advice on whether, or how, to build in flood risk areas is not being systematically monitored, reported or followed up through the planning system.
  • The number of local flood plans and strategies under the National Planning Policy Framework is worryingly low.
  • Sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS), acknowledged as an efficient way of dealing with surface water, is not the default option in new developments.
  • There is a lack of transparency in how the Government makes results of past flood reviews and resulting actions available, so that stakeholders can monitor progress and hold it to account.

More information

House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee Flooding: Cooperation across Government

Environment Agency Flood and Coastal Risk Management (FCRM) maintenance review IUK Client working group – peer review 

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