Earlier today (Thursday the 24th January), John Redwood met with Sir Michael Pitt, author of the official review into what action should be taken to tackle the problem of flooding, in the House of Commons to discuss his interim report.
John Redwood visited the affected areas in Wokingham over the weekend of last Julyâ€™s floods, and has visited several of the sites subsequently to learn more of the problems and to try to direct help from the Agencies involved. His evidence to Sir Michael Pittâ€™s enquiry included the following main points:
1. In all too many cases there has been a lack of clarity over which body or authority is responsible for maintaining and improving the flood defences. This can lead to delay or failure to take the necessary action in time before heavy rainfall occurs. John has recommended that the Environment Agency draw up a list of the principal bodies with their responsibilities detailed on a district by district basis. He also proposed that an independent Adjudicator be established to decide in cases where public bodies and water companies are in disagreement about their responsibilities.
2. The Environment Agency, the water companies and the local authorities should be expected to maintain their flood defences to a higher standard than the EA has been achieving in recent years. There should be an immediate programme of cleaning and scouring to improve the flows and capacity of the ditches and culverts.
3. The leading authorities, including the Environment Agency, the Water companies and the Highways Agencies should draw up a programme of works to improve the capacity of their systems where it proved inadequate for the volumes of water last July. In many cases the work will entail a digger enlarging a ditch or creating an additional one, to take the surplus water.
4. Government Planning Inspectors should not grant new planning permissions on flood plain, unless they require the developers to pay for enhancements to anti flood systems which not only handle the extra water the development will generate, but make some contribution to the backlog of inadequacy in systems.
5. Consideration should be given to requiring new housing and commercial developments to include rain water collection from roofs for reuse on site as grey water for cleaning purposes, to reduce the flow into the drainage systems.
6. The Environment Agency should press ahead with its plan for a larger retaining area on the Emm Brook to control surplus flows during heavy rainfall.
7. The Environment Agency should examine flows and volumes on the Loddon and see if a longer term larger scheme is needed to improve the capacity of the river.
In addition to his submission and meeting with Sir Michael Pitt, John Redwood has repeatedly raised these issues in the House of Commons.
Speaking about his meeting with Sir Michael Pitt, John Redwood said: â€œThe public does not just want the Environment Agency to publish better maps of flood risk, and to publish earlier and clearer warnings of floods. It wants the government as a whole to find ways of preventing floods by better water managementâ€.
â€œI hope the Pitt Report will include these proposals in its final version. More importantly, I hope the Environment Agency and the other bodies will now turn their attention to better maintenance and a programme of improvements to the flood defences.â€