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Flood Control

Volume 469: debated on Monday 10 December 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made on the Government's commitment in the Statement of Principles with Insurance Industries to (a) reduce the annual probability of flooding each year for a substantial number of properties in the UK, (b) maintain investment in flood management each year, (c) implement reforms to the land-use planning system to ensure that new developments do not lead to an increase in the national or local flood risk, (d) communicate flood risk effectively and (e) develop an integrated approach to urban drainage that alleviates the risks of sewer flooding and flash flooding. (171154)

The Association of British Insurers' Statement of Principles sets out members' commitments on availability of flood insurance in association with Government commitments on effective management of flood risk.

(a) A full programme of Government-funded works across the country is currently forecast to considerably exceed the Spending Review target to improve protection from river flooding and coastal erosion for more than 100,000 households between 2005 and 2008. Our investment is making real improvements possible across the country but, regardless of future levels of funding, it would be unrealistic to expect the Government to address all flood and coastal erosion risk problems.

(b) Spending on flood and coastal erosion risk management across central and local government has increased from £307 million in 1996-97 to some £600 million this year and will increase further to a minimum of £650 million in 2008-09, £700 million in 2009-10, reaching £800 million in 2010-11. This represents a significant real terms increase.

(c) I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my colleague the Minister for Housing on 29 October 2007, Official Report, column 673W, as this is a matter for the Department for Communities and Local Government.

(d) Flood risk mapping is an important part of the Government's strategy on public awareness. DEFRA funds the Environment Agency to map flood risk as part of our strategy to ensure that the risk from flooding is better understood by all concerned. The Environment Agency continues to improve the flood mapping available to the public, local planning authorities, the emergency services and insurers.

(e) The Government's developing strategy to improve flood risk management, “Making space for water”, seeks to identify improvements in urban flood risk management where there is a complex interaction of drainage systems and a number of different organisations involved. As part of this, DEFRA is funding 15 pilots in different locations around the country to test new approaches to urban drainage management and clarify responsibilities. We are also developing proposals for how the current range of responsibilities for urban flood risk should be managed and the role of the Environment Agency in this.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made on the collation of groundwater flooding records, and monitoring and risk assessment, as referred to in Making Space for Water. (171156)

Recommendations from the Making Space for Water project (MSfW) ‘Groundwater flooding records collation, monitoring and risk assessment’ are being considered at MSfW programme level, with other related work.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures have been introduced to encourage people to take up resilience measures in their homes. (171158)

The Environment Agency publishes helpful information on its website on resilience and resistance measures.

In conjunction with the Association of British Insurers, we are working to develop ways in which the public can be encouraged to incorporate appropriate flood resilience or resistance measures in their homes and businesses. We are also undertaking a £500,000 pilot scheme looking at the feasibility of providing financial assistance for people to install such measures. In May we published a technical report which described in broad terms the suitability and cost effectiveness of a variety of measures such as temporary flood gates, water resistant floors and wall coverings.