The current arrangements for flood risk management in England are fragmented, inefficient and ineffective and should be overhauled, with the Environment Agency’s (EA) responsibilities given to new bodies under a national Floods Commissioner, MPs have said.
In a highly critical report on Future flood prevention, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee calls for major changes to flood management, including a Floods Commissioner, new regional flood and coastal boards and a new English rivers and coastal authority.
Committee chair Neil Parish MP
The report says that, although the Government has increased flood risk management budgets, ‘this level of funding is unlikely to deliver sufficient protection in future decades’.
It calls on ministers to publish by the end of 2017 their 25-year ambition for flood risk reduction, and the cost of securing this, against different climate change scenarios.
Committee chair Neil Parish MP said: ‘We propose a radical alternative to the Government’s National Flood Resilience Review’s limited solutions to the current fragmented, inefficient and ineffective flood risk management arrangements.
‘Our proposals will deliver a far more holistic approach to flooding and water supply management, looking at catchments as a whole. Flood management must include much wider use of natural measures such as leaky dams, tree planting and improved soil management. And some areas of farmland should be used to store flood water.’
Mr Parish said the committee’s proposed model would would streamline roles and pool expertise to allow bodies to deliver their unique roles, with funding ‘firmly linked to outcomes’.
A Floods Commissioner would agree strategic, long-term flood risk reduction outcomes with the Government and be held to account for their effective delivery.
Regional flood and coastal boards would coordinate regional delivery of national plans, in partnership with local stakeholders. These boards would take on current Lead Local Flood Authority and Regional Flood and Coastal Committee roles.
An English rivers and coastal authority would take on national flood risk management roles that are currently the responsibility of the EA.
MPs have also put forward proposals for immediate action to improve resilience to floods.
Mr Parish called for building regulations to be tightened up to help flood proof properties if a voluntary code is not agreed by the end of this year and for developers who flout planning rules in high flood risk areas to be penalised.
The report recommends that developers who fail to comply with planning requirements should be made liable for the costs of associated flooding across a catchment and for water companies to be made statutory consultees on planning applications.
Transport Network approached environment department Defra for comment.