Election deadline threat to flood bill

The Flood and Water Management Bill could fail to reach the statute books due to lack of parliamentary time in one of the shortest fifth parliamentary sessions for any government. The bill received its first reading before Parliament on November 19 but, as WET News went to press, a date had yet to be set for the second reading debate.

There are concerns over planning issues, and how local authorities are to fund the measures contained in the bill.

Anne McIntosh, shadow minister for the Environment, Floods and Water, said: "I would like to have seen more reference to the role of water companies, the contribution regular maintenance can make to flood prevention and encouragement for householders to take more willingly flood resilience measure to reduce the risk of flooding to property."

She said the bill will be scrutinised, particularly on the role of local authorities, the EA, water companies, and the resources available to promote sustainable development.

"This bill gives a unique opportunity before the general election to bring all the parties together, work out who does which role best, and to maximize the limited resources available."

At the EA annual conference last month, McIntosh said a Conservative government would support an emergency floods bill if the Floods and Water Management Bill did not reach Parliament by the general election. The bill would address 15 key recommendations of the Pitt report.

A spokesman for Defra said: "We do not want to delay changes that will improve protection to people's lives and property. Our firm intention is to work with Parliament to ensure the bill will reach the statute book before the next general election."

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