MPs say UK still unprepared for floods

The UK is still unprepared to cope with floods such as those seen last summer, MPs have said.

Parts of the UK were submerged after heavy rains in June and July last year

Parts of the UK were submerged after heavy rains in June and July last year

A report from the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRACOM) found there was a total lack of awareness about the vulnerability of large parts of the country prior to the floods and infrastructure to deal with the deluge was "confused and chaotic".

The committee said it should become a statutory duty for local authorities to deal with surface water drainage, with the Environment Agency acting as an advisory body.

The £800m funding announced by Government to deal with flooding "is not fully adequate", the report went on.

MPs also demanded that ministers explain how the £34m of funding announced in February will be sufficient to fund the final recommendations of the Pitt Review when they are published this summer.

Committee chairman Michael Jack said: ""Government must bring clarity to this situation so that the public, wherever they live, can have peace of mind that every effort is being made to avoid a repeat of the fiasco of last summer."

Other recommendations included:

  • Clarify ownership of different drainage systems through a register compiled by local authorities

  • Greater use of sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS)

  • Require planning permission to pave over front gardens with non-porous materials

  • New buildings on flood plains should be properly flood resistant and resilient

  • Government must address the skills shortage among engineers working in the flooding and drainage fields

    Many of the recommendations echoed those in the Environment Agency's review of the floods and the interim report of the Pitt Review.

    Responding to EFRACOM's report, Barbara Young, chief executive of the Environment Agency, said: "It's a useful analysis and highlights a number of issues that we have identified in our internal review of the summer floods as priorities for Government, the Environment Agency, local authorities and other bodies."

    The Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) this week called for Government to ensure better uptake of SUDS.

    EIC chairman Merlin Hyman said: ""Flood risk will increase in the future as climate change causes more intensive storms.

    " EIC has today responded to Defra's consultation on Improving Surface Water Drainage urging the Government to remove the barriers to greater uptake of sustainable urban drainage systems to reduce flood risk in the future."

    Kate Martin

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