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Flood Control

Volume 503: debated on Wednesday 6 January 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made on the study commissioned to explore technological or process improvements that can be made to speed up drying out and stabilising building recovery after a flood; and when he expects a programme of work based on that study to be established. (306331)

I refer the hon. Member to the December 2009 progress report on the Government's response to Sir Michael Pitt's review of the summer 2007 floods, recommendation 73.

DEFRA and the Communities and Local Government Department commissioned a desk-based study to look at current guidance on speeding up drying out and stabilisation after a flood and how it might be used better. This study is now complete. A project is being set up with the Environment Agency and the Association of British Insurers to develop a document pointing to existing advice on how best to achieve drying out. We are on track to meet recommendation 73 by spring 2010.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of use of water meadows in preventing flooding; and if he will make a statement. (308342)

The impact that storing water in flood meadows may have on alleviating flooding in any particular location will depend on the hydrological characteristics of the catchment and the storage capacity and position of the flood meadow. If a water meadow is in a suitable location and has appropriate hydrology to be a flood storage area, it will be assessed in the same way as any other potential flood storage area. Therefore, where there are water meadows, or a water meadow could be created, the Environment Agency or other operating authorities assess the effectiveness of their use for flood alleviation on a case-by-case basis.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what has been the cost benefit analysis applicable to each of the flood defence schemes given approval within the last 12 months, excluding minor schemes progressed by local authorities. (309278)

All flood defence schemes given approval in the last 12 months were reviewed for compliance with DEFRA project appraisal guidance and the Treasury Green Book. Benefit cost ratios (BCRs) are fundamental to this approach as they provide a transparent and inclusive approach to decision making that takes all relevant factors into account. While maximising the BCR often indicates the most economically worthwhile scheme option, the decision-making process takes into account reasonable expectations about the standard of protection appropriate to the location. Therefore, while the overall BCR of the Environment Agency's capital programme is currently 8:1; this includes a wide range of individual scheme BCRs above and below the programme average.

The following table shows the benefit cost ratio for a sample of ten significant schemes that have had their business cases approved since Christmas 2008. This group represents a total spend of £51 million, and has an average benefit cost ratio that well exceeds our target of five1.

1 Target for Outcome Measure 1—CSR2007 (an Environment Agency performance measure set by DEFRA)

Project title

Environment Agency Region

Benefit cost ratio

Total cost (£ million)

Altmouth Urgent Works

North West



Burstwick Drain

North East



Cannington Outfalls

South West







Newmans Sluice




Upper Mole Flood Alleviation scheme




Thames and Palace Wharves




Welches Dam Pumping Station Refurbishment




Dog in a Doublet Sluice




Pevensey Outfalls Reconstruction