Skip to main content

Winter Flooding

Volume 617: debated on Thursday 24 November 2016

We have completed 130 new flood schemes this year, protecting over 55,000 households. All but three of the 660 Environment Agency flood defences damaged last winter have now been repaired and the three remaining assets have contingency plans in place. The Environment Agency recently launched its flood awareness campaign and last month we launched the property level resilience action plan on how householders can protect their homes from flooding. It also details measures that will allow them to get back into their home more quickly if they are, unfortunately, flooded.

This year, after the devastation caused by storms Desmond, Eva and Frank right across the country, the Government announced an extra £700 million of flood defence spending, but apart from saying £12 million of that would be spent on mobile flood defences to protect electricity and infrastructure assets, there has not been a clear plan from the Government about how the money is going to be spent. The Environmental Audit Committee made strong recommendations on the protection of roads and railways, and with Devon and Cornwall, the north-east and Scotland suffering landslips and ballast washaways in the recent flooding, is not now the time to set out a proper transport infrastructure resilience plan for the whole country?

About half of the money has already been allocated, but the hon. Lady may not yet be aware that the autumn statement included the announcement of a package of £170 million to be deployed, £150 million of which is specifically to tackle road and rail.

The Minister may recall that in December 2013 there was a tidal surge that affected the Humber estuary. Many of my constituents had their homes flooded, and throughout the Humber hundreds were affected. Can the Minister reassure me that there will be no slippage in future flood defence spending on the Humber?

The 2013 tidal surge affected the entire east coast, including my constituency. I can assure my hon. Friend that the schemes already planned will continue given the record £2.5 billion investment this Government are making in flood defences.

I learned recently that water companies are not a statutory consultee, despite companies such as Severn Trent Water wanting to be and having a great deal of knowledge not only about flooding areas, but also about, for example, whether storm drains can cope with additional water created by new building. Will the Minister have a conversation with her opposite numbers in the Department for Communities and Local Government about changing things so that water companies can be a statutory consultee?

I recognise that water companies are not currently a statutory consultee, but that does not stop them having conversations. The Environment Agency continues to provide advice on all planning applications, and in 98% of planning applications across England its advice is accepted.