DEFRA and the Environment Agency are today publishing a consultation for a national flood and coastal erosion risk management strategy for England. This is a key step in the delivery of the Government’s commitment to
“take forward the findings of the Pitt review to improve our flood defences, and prevent unnecessary buildings in areas of high flood risk”.
The Flood and Water Management Act requires the Environment Agency to prepare a national strategy for flood and coastal erosion risk management. The strategy will be prepared taking into account the responses to the consultation and will be submitted to Ministers for approval. Once approved, it will be laid in Parliament for 40 days before it comes into effect.
The strategy will consider risk from all sources of flooding and coastal erosion at the national level. It will help us make the difficult decisions about what Government funding is used for and how much is allocated between the different tasks and risk management authorities.
It is important that this national view is complemented by strong local leadership and accountability. The strategy will reflect the need for decisions to be made locally, by the communities at risk, and it will provide the framework to encourage and enable local action to take place. We remain committed to fully funding local authority new burdens under the Flood and Water Management Act. Up to £36 million a year will be provided directly to lead local flood authorities (£21 million in 2011-12 due to phasing-in).
The strategy proposes an overall aim for flood and coastal erosion risk management and high-level principles to guide activities at both national and local levels. One of these principles reflects Sir Michael Pitt’s suggestion, in his review of the summer 2007 floods, that additional local investment in flood risk management should be allowed and encouraged.
The system proposed includes a long-term investment framework so that we have the potential over time to support local needs, build our resilience as a society and give communities a bigger say in their own future. More detailed information about how this might be implemented is provided in a linked consultation available on DEFRA’s website. Accompanying consultations on draft guidance on the duty for local authorities to contribute to sustainable development and draft guidance on co-operation and the sharing of information are also being undertaken at the same time.
Links to the consultations are provided from the DEFRA and Environment Agency websites at http://ww2.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/ and http://consult. environment-agency.gov.uk/portal/. The consultations will run for 12 weeks and it will be important that responses are received from the full range of interests, including parliamentarians and Select Committees.