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Flood Risk (Planning)

Volume 502: debated on Tuesday 8 December 2009

15. If he will require local planning authorities to act on objections by the Environment Agency to planning applications on the grounds of the risk of flooding. (304611)

Again, the terrible events of the past few weeks underline the importance of these issues. Our planning policy requires local planning authorities to re-consult the Environment Agency where the agency objects to a planning application on flood risk grounds. This is backed by a direction requiring planning authorities to provide the Secretary of State with the opportunity to intervene where the agency sustains an objection to major development proposals.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that reply. I recently read a briefing which said that about a quarter of local authorities were ignoring Environment Agency recommendations against developments in areas prone to flooding. Does that cause him some concern?

This issue will concern many members of the public, and my hon. Friend is absolutely right to raise it. We have made the Environment Agency a statutory consultee on planning applications in areas at risk of flooding. The figures I have suggest that in about 97 per cent. of cases in which the agency objects on flood risk grounds, the final decision is in line with its advice. I know how seriously he takes these matters, and I would be delighted to meet him to discuss in more detail the figures that he has.

Will the Minister go further and join in our calls to make water companies statutory consultees as well, to ensure that where there are major new developments, sewage can fit into waste water pipes to prevent future flooding?

I have not considered that issue, but I would be very happy to meet the hon. Lady and talk about it in more detail.