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Climate Change

Volume 691: debated on Monday 16 April 2007

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What steps they are taking to enforce United Kingdom flood defences against rising water levels resulting from global warming. [HL2861]

Increased flood risk, from both rivers and the sea, is one of the predicted impacts of climate change in the UK. In England, we have significantly increased spending, which will be some £590 million (on both flood and coastal erosion risk management) in 2006-07 compared to £307 million in 1996-97. These funds are prioritised to address the most pressing flood and erosion problems first.

For several years, Defra has issued guidance to the operating authorities (Environment Agency, local authorities and internal drainage boards) on allowances to be made for future climate change and, in particular, sea level rise in the design of present-day defences. We recently reviewed this guidance, which is published on the Defra website, and are working to ensure effective management of flood and coastal erosion risk. This includes taking account of the likely impacts of climate change through our Making Space for Water programme, which is bringing the Government and other stakeholders together in developing a broad range of measures to respond to the challenge.

As well as investment in building and maintaining defences, these measures include such things as:

(i) encouraging better flood resilience and resistance for buildings and emergency infrastructure;

(ii) improved management of urban drainage; and

(iii) better stakeholder and community engagement and risk mapping.

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Whether the advice of the Government Chief Scientist that weather-forecasting capability in the United Kingdom is likely to be reduced over time by climate change will be relevant to decision-making at the 2009 water industry price review. [HL2883]

Advice on possible changes to long-term weather patterns and their likely impacts as a result of climate change will be considered carefully at the 2009 water industry price review.

From 1 April 2007, water companies have a statutory duty to prepare and maintain long-term water resource management plans. Directions will be made to ensure that these plans also consider the impact of changes in climate on the future water supply. The plans will be part of the evidence submitted to Ofwat at the next price review.

In addition, Ofwat is working with stakeholders to develop guidance for long-term sewerage plans. This will take account of developing climate change scenarios and their potential impact on future services.