Statement on Flooding, 6 Jan

Mr John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): Does the Secretary of State agree that a number of small schemes to improve the capacity of ditches, culverts and streams could make a lot of difference? My constituency has had huge development on flood plain, and every time we have these situations we always get too many properties flooded because of defective maintenance or because the ditches and culverts are not big enough.

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr Owen Paterson): My right hon. Friend is absolutely spot on. A big difference can be made by micro-management of micro-problems, such as the one cited in the previous question. Not everything can be done by central Government, national institutions, local councils or even parish councils. In rural areas, we are setting up pilots to allow local landowners the right on the ground to maintain low-risk areas and to clear out small rivers.