Anger over draft Flood Management Bill

Proposed changes to the way local authorities manage floods are causing anger among the people expected to deliver the services.

Surrey County Council has attacked the plans warning it will be ‘short-changed’ if it has to take over the main responsibility for flood prevention.

The Government’s draft Flood and Water Management Bill aims to give all county councils the lead role in managing floods and flood risks and coordinating responses by other smaller councils in the county.

The bill, which was open to consultation until 24 July, is designed to deliver ‘improved security, service and sustainability’ for people.

And, it also clearly define who is responsible for ‘managing flood risk’ and ‘protect essential water supplies’.

As well, according to the document, modernise the law for managing flood risk and reservoir safety as well as updating flooding rules overall.

However, Surrey’s cabinet member for environment, Dr Lynne Hack, attacked the bill she said: “Our priority is to ensure Surrey residents are protected from flooding.

“We are concerned the government will short-change us and our residents, it is unrealistic to expect the costs of the new role will be balanced by savings from avoiding flood damage.”

Speaking at Ciria’s ‘Power to the people – leadership, partnership and participation in local flood risk management’ yesterday (30 July) Steve Cook from the Environment Agency said partnerships were ‘essential’.

Comparing the draft bill to the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing series, he said: “We’re learning new moves and we’re going to tread on our partners toes, but partnerships are essentials.”

According to Mr Cook the bill could become law in the fifth session of Parliament, which should be early next year.

Luke Walsh

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