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Flooding: Pitt Review

Volume 715: debated on Tuesday 15 December 2009


My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Hilary Benn) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am placing in the Libraries of the House today copies of the Government’s second update report detailing the progress made in implementing the recommendations contained in Sir Michael Pitt’s report on the 2007 summer floods.

We continue to make significant progress. We have introduced our Flood and Water Management Bill, which implements Pitt recommendations that require legislation and will strengthen co-ordination, improve accountability and reduce the impact of future floods.

In advance of the Bill becoming law, we have taken action to help communities at risk of flooding. We have, for example:

set up a £7.7 million Flood Forecasting Centre, jointly run by the Environment Agency and the Met Office, which is already providing important services to local authorities and emergency responders, helping them to be better prepared for potential flooding;

strengthened arrangements for local and national co-ordination in the event of an emergency, as recently tested in Cumbria—for example through publishing updated emergency response and recovery guidance;

announced that local communities across England will benefit from £16 million funding to help them tackle surface water flooding, including £9.7 million made available to 77 local authorities for areas where the risk and potential impact of surface water flooding could be highest;

issued guidance to regulators on protecting essential services; local action includes reinforced defences at Mythe water treatment works in Gloucestershire and flood defences at East and West Hull sewage pumping stations;

invested in building capacity, including funding local authority places for the Environment Agency’s flood management foundation degree and developing an NVQ level 2/3 course on flood risk management;

delivered, through the Environment Agency:

106 flood defence schemes protecting over 63,800 additional homes in England; and

140,000 additional people signed up to receive flood warnings in England and Wales: and the introduction of “opt out” telephone warning systems in February 2010 will significantly increase that number.

doubled our overall investment in flood and coastal erosion risk management in the past 10 years to a record £2.15 billion over the current three-year spending period.

The progress report explains the further steps we are taking to implement Sir Michael’s recommendations. The risk of flooding remains and the recent events in Cumbria underline once again the importance of this work. The Government remain determined to enable us better to anticipate and deal with the impact of flooding.

I will continue to keep the House informed of progress through future progress reports.