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Flooding Prevention for New Developments

Volume 575: debated on Tuesday 4 February 2014

Motion for leave to bring in a Bill (Standing Order No. 23)

I beg to move,

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make provision to require Highways Authorities to include flooding prevention schemes in the development of new road constructions; and for connected purposes.

I am grateful for the opportunity to present this ten-minute rule Bill, Madam Deputy Speaker. You will be aware of how high a profile flooding has in the news at the moment. Sadly for many residents in Sherwood, this is not a recent problem, but something they have lived with for a very long time. Many of the villages of Nottinghamshire are built around settlements dating back to Saxon times located next to a small stream as a source of fresh water. They have evolved and grown for hundreds of years. For many of them, the discovery of coal meant their growth was quite rapid in the 20th century.

Sadly, the drainage systems of those villages have not grown at the same rate, and further developments upstream have added to the problem of drainage. Those villages are today faced with sewage systems that are already under enormous pressure and have a high risk of flooding during periods of prolonged or heavy rainfall. That is because there are often no top water drainage systems in place, and run-off from roofs, driveways and highways is left to flood the highway or enter the village stream or, even worse, is directed into the foul water system. My Bill, should it be successful, seeks to prevent any further pressure on these already over-stretched drainage systems.

Currently, water companies are placed under an obligation to connect any new development to an existing sewerage system, even if this system has flooded in the recent past. It is the water company and its customers who bear the costs of any improvements required, not the developer, who may be building a large number of houses further upstream. My Bill would do two things in those circumstances. First, it would ensure that the developer was obliged to pay for any proportionate improvement required in the foul water system. Secondly, my Bill would ensure that any top water must be dealt with via a purpose-built top water system and not increase water flows downstream during high rainfall events.

That would also apply where a new road development was taking place. Any new highway being built would have to include its own surface water drainage system that did not add increased volumes of water during high rainfall events. Such action would be entirely achievable with the use of balancing ponds, and would not dramatically increase costs, as the new systems would be put in while the diggers were on the ground. There are a number of instances in which that has already been done, but, sadly, it does not appear to be happening in a number of instances in Sherwood.

Nottinghamshire county council is currently planning the development of the Hucknall inner relief road. I shall not be discussing the merits of that today, but the proposed route runs though an area of Hucknall around Thoresby Dale, where there is already extensive flooding, and the current plans do nothing to improve the plight of residents in the area. The solution seems quite simple to me. The council is about to spend more than £15 million on the road; laying a purpose-built top-water drainage system below the road, while the diggers are there in any event, would involve very little additional cost, and would be of massive benefit to people in the area.

My second example relates to the village of Farnsfield, whose predicament, sadly, is not unusual. The village has suffered a number of flash-flooding events over the past five years, which have usually culminated in an overflow of the foul water systems which has left several householders with raw sewage in their gardens, garages and homes. Newark and Sherwood district council is currently considering a substantial development on the edge of the village, upstream of the flooding properties, and that can only make the problem worse unless substantial mitigation measures are introduced. My Bill would ensure that the developer was legally obliged to do that, and would hold the highway authority responsible for ensuring that it was done during the planning process.

The Bill is not retrospective, so it will not solve the existing problems, but it will help to prevent them from being made worse in future. While I am realistic about its chances of success, I nevertheless hope that the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Camborne and Redruth (George Eustice)—who is present—has listened to my comments. There may still be a further opportunity to amend the Water Bill, which is currently in the House of Lords.

I commend my Bill to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Ordered,

That Mr Mark Spencer, Heather Wheeler, Angie Bray, Robert Halfon and Karl MᶜCartney present the Bill.

Mr Mark Spencer accordingly presented the Bill.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 28 February, and to be printed (Bill 167).

ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR, CRIME AND POLICING BILL (PROGRAMME) (NO. 3)

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 83A(7)),

That the following provisions shall apply to the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill for the purpose of supplementing the Orders of 10 June 2013 (Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill (Programme)) and 14 October 2013 (Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill (Programme) (No. 2)):

Consideration of Lords Amendments

(1) Proceedings on consideration of Lords Amendments shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion three hours after their commencement at today’s sitting.

(2) The proceedings shall be taken in the following order: Lords Amendment No. 112; Lords Amendments Nos. 1 to 111; Lords Amendments Nos. 113 to 180.

Subsequent stages

(3) Any further Message from the Lords may be considered forthwith without any Question being put.

(4) The proceedings on any further Message from the Lords shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion one hour after their commencement.—(Damian Green.)

Question agreed to.