21 February 2020Publish date: 21/02/2020
In 2008, Sir Michael Pitt Published his final report entitled 'Learning Lessons from the 2007 Floods'. Jump forward 12 years and according to the Environmental Agency, England has already received 141% of its average February rainfall so far this month.Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire have all been hit hard with authorities declaring the scale of flooding in Wales as "unprecedented". More than 1000 homes and businesses have been affected in Rhondda Cynon Taff alone with the council's leader, Andrew Morgan, estimating costs to the council in the region of £10-£15 million. The First Minister, Mark Drakeford had already promised up to £10 million for flood-hit homes and businesses and has since pledged more money following a summit in Cardiff.
Tim Swift, the leader of Calderdale council speaking to the Guardian said local authorities had been left in an "impossible position" due to the housebuilding targets imposed on them by central government and the pressure to alleviate the flood risk. He stated, "Councils are stuck between the government demands for housebuilding and the difficulties for identifying suitable sites…..There's got to be a look at planning policy and the relationship between housing numbers and the pressures on flooding".
Current estimations identify £7.7 billion worth of damage on a third of UK property following the storms. In February, the Environment Agency warned that if global temperatures continue to rise, the UK will need to spend £1 billion per year to protect homes from flooding. However, with one in ten new builds in England since 2013 being built on land at high risk of flooding, the situation for the future is a serious concern.
The LGA have published a useful guidance for Managing Flood Risk- Roles and Responsibilities which sets out The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) as the policy lead for flood and coastal erosion risk management in England and states "New or revised policies are prepared with other parts of government such as the Treasury, the Cabinet Office (for emergency response planning) and the Department for Communities and Local Government (for land-use and planning policy)". These national policies are then delivered by Risk Assessment Management Authorities (RMAs) which include Lead Local Flood Authorities (LLFA), District and Borough Councils and Highways Authorities.
LLFAs are county councils and unitary authorities. They lead in managing local flood risks together with ensuring co-operation between the Risk Management Authorities in their area. Under the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, LLFAs are required (amongst other things) to prepare and maintain a strategy for local flood risk management in their areas which includes consultation and scrutiny. District and Borough Councils are Risk Management Authorities and are viewed by the LGA as "key partners in planning local flood risk management". The LGA have produced a framework to assist with formulation of a strategy although it hasn't been revised since 2011.
If you have been directly affected by the floods, I wish you the very best over the coming weeks and months.
With best wishes
Head of Public Affairs