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Land Drainage

Volume 458: debated on Monday 19 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) strategy and (b) funding the Government have put in place for integrated drainage plans in urban areas (i) to address the risks of sewer flooding and (ii) to increase the storm capacity of drainage systems; and if he will make a statement. (125624)

In January 2007, as part of DEFRA’s new strategy on flood management (known as “Making space for water”), I announced the start of 15 integrated urban drainage pilot studies around the country. Further details can be found at http://www.defra.gov.uk/environ/fcd/policy/strategy/ha2.htm The projects, made possible by £1.7 million of funding from DEFRA, will test new approaches to reduce the risk of urban drainage flooding, both from sewers and stormwater.

While the pilot projects will not directly fund capital improvements, they should bring greater clarity on responsibilities for funding urban drainage management between water companies, local authorities, the Environment Agency, Internal Drainage Boards and the Highways Agency. Following completion of the pilot projects in spring 2008, DEFRA will produce new guidance on effective partnership working to deliver integrated drainage solutions in high risk urban catchments and prepare a regulatory impact assessment for any proposed legislative changes.

For 2005-10, Ofwat has allowed water and sewerage companies a programme of nearly £1 billion to safeguard homes against the risk of sewer flooding. This would resolve or mitigate every known high risk problem of internal flooding from overloaded sewers where companies’ plans said action is needed by 2010.