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UK Flood Policy

What is the UK Government doing about flood risk?

The summer 2007 floods saw the issue of the UK’s vulnerability to major flooding rise to the top of the policy agenda. The issue has been debated on the benches of the House of Commons and Lords, and has formed a major part of the Government’s agenda. The threat of flooding is now a significant UK public policy issue and central to the important debate on climate change.

The Government responded to the rise to prominence of the flooding issue by tasking Sir Michael Pitt to conduct an independent review of the response to the floods that took place in the summer of 2007, one of the most high-profile policy reviews of recent years. Like policy reviews that have followed major national disasters such as Foot and Mouth disease in the past, the Review issued some stark criticisms of the UK’s approach to flood risk management. The Final Report from the Pitt Review ‘Lessons Learned from the 2007 floods’ was published in June 2008 and recommendations for immediate action from the UK Government included the following:
  • Publish a Flood Act which outlines clear areas of responsibility for flood management in UK;
  • Provide more public information on flood risk and prevention, aimed at advising house-owners and businesses;
  • Give the Environment Agency responsibility for a national oversight of all types of flood risk;
  • Restrict building in areas of high flood risk;
  • Make flood risk assessment a mandatory part of Home Information Packs.
To read the report in full click here.

What Can We Expect in the Future with Respect to UK Flood Risk?

The Review requested that the Government respond to the recommendations set out and a formal policy response from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) was expected by the end of November 2008.

However at the time of the Review’s publication in June, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Rt. Hon Hilary Benn MP said that he supported the broad conclusions of the Pitt Review, and outlined Government support for developing surface water management plans, funding for a national test for the new structures and roles put in place to ensure more preparedness for flooding in the future, and developing a Long Term Investment Strategy for flood defence.

DEFRA has committed to providing £34 million to implement the recommendations of the Pitt Review, with a total of £2 billion to be spent on improving flood response in the UK over the next three year spending period. This will include a significant increase in the Environment Agency’s resources.

The Government has also committed to introducing draft Floods and Water Bills, expected to be first published in the next parliamentary session.

To find out more about DEFRA’s work on flood click here.
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Homecheck Professional Flood Report