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Planning: Flooding

Volume 687: debated on Thursday 7 December 2006

My right honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

To strengthen and clarify the key role of the planning system in managing flood risk and contributing to adapting to the impacts of climate change, we are today publishing:

a new Planning Policy Statement (PPS)25: Development and Flood Risk; and

a flooding direction.

PPS25 replaces the existing PPG25, issued in 2001, and sets out policies for planning authorities to:

ensure flood risk is properly taken into account at all stages in the planning process;

prevent inappropriate development in areas at high risk of flooding; and

direct development away from areas at highest risk.

The flooding direction provides the opportunity for greater scrutiny for major developments proposed in flood-risk areas. Where local authorities intend to approve major applications despite the Environment Agency maintaining its objections, the Secretary of State will be asked to consider whether to call them in for decision. These documents are supported by regulations made on 1 October 2006, which made the Environment Agency a statutory consultee for planning applications in flood-risk areas. This reinforces the implementation of PPS25 by ensuring that the agency is able to advise on all applications where flood risk is an issue.

Flooding from rivers and tidal water is set to increase in frequency and intensity as a result of known climate change. The substantial upgrading from PPG25 in PPS25 is an important climate-change adaptation measure. It forms part of the Government's Making Space for Water strategy and delivers on a project jointly launched by my right honourable friend the Member for Streatham (then Minister for Housing and Planning) and my honourable friend the Member for Scunthorpe (then Minister for Environment and Agri-environment) in March 2005.

PPS25 is therefore a key part of our developing programme of responses to the challenge of climate change. It complements a comprehensive package of planning policy and building standards to be announced shortly that will chart a course towards zero carbon development, and embed carbon reduction principles in future development. PPS25 also strongly supports the strategy for housing set out in PPS3 on 29 November. In our drive for increasing housing supply and in particular by making more use of previously developed land, we need a strong set of tools to assess flood risk. We must avoid those areas where housing development is never going to acceptable. But we must also identify those where, with good design and local mitigation measures, it is possible to manage the risk and still build safely.

Copies of PPS25 and the circular and flooding direction are being made available in the Libraries of both Houses. PPS25 will be available on the Communities and Local Government website at and the circular at =1504645.