Government sets out plans to strengthen surface water flood risk management

The government is to draw up plans setting out proposals to strengthen surface water management arrangements in response to the growing challenges of changing weather patterns and population growth and their impacts on the risk of surface water flooding.

In a written statement to the House of Commons yesterday, which was also presented in the House of Lords, Dr Thérèse Coffey, Environment Minister said the government had identified 5 key actions aimed at reducing the risk of surface water flooding in response to the commitment in the National Flood Resilience Review to look at issues affecting surface water in 2017.

Proposals to support the actions will be considered by the Inter Ministerial Group on Flooding early next year with a report outlining actions and an implementation timetable published in spring 2018.

The government will also need to take account of ongoing work by the National Infrastructure Commission and the Adaptation Sub-Committee as well as the soon to be published report of DCLG’s review of sustainable drainage systems in planning policy.

The actions set out in the statement are:

Presentation of findings to date: this will take place in January 2018 at a co-hosted event with Water UK where stakeholders will be able to contribute in shaping future actions. One of the main themes will be the collaboration of local authorities and other risk management authorities in delivering their statutory responsibilities and achieving the best outcomes for surface water management.

National position: This year government added the risk of surface water flooding to the National Risk Register within the “High Risk” banding. The government will develop a clear national planning scenario for surface water flood risk based on plausible extreme rainfall events. This will be tested by a panel of experts who will give an independent assessment of its suitability and its application to existing surface water risk maps and national objectives.

Effective collaborative working: the government will work with others to build on effective partnership by risk management authorities, including using the review of the national flood and coastal erosion strategy to ensure best practice is shared and priorities are aligned.

Skills: the research has shown that it is important to maintain the right balance of surface water flood and drainage skills at the local level. The project has identified some particular concerns, for example in relation to drainage engineering skills as well as staff retention and succession planning. The government will work with others on actions to address skills and capacity issues.

Maps and data: the Environment Agency is reviewing the current and future data needs for the mapping and modelling of surface water flooding. They aim to improve the availability, consistency and accuracy of data across the range of bodies involved.

Forecasting: The Met Office and Environment Agency are carrying out a review on how improvements in surface water forecasting and communication can be made to make the best use of the information produced across the Met Office, Flood Forecasting Centre and Environment Agency.

UK better prepared this winter for flooding from all sources

Dr. Coffey told MPs and peers that following on from the National Flood Resilience Review the UK was better prepared this winter for flooding from all sources: the Environment Agency now has 25 miles of mobile flood barriers, 250 mobile pumps, and 500,000 sandbags. The flood barriers and mobile pumps are ready to go anywhere in the country.

The Minister also highlighted the work of Water UK’s 21st Century Drainage Programme which will begin to develop the framework for Drainage and Wastewater Management Plans over the coming months.

Flood defence investment was also being boosted to over £2.6 billion by 2021 - the Budget announced an additional £76 million to be spent on flood and coastal defence schemes over the next three years.

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