A Parliamentary Select Committee report calling for an overhaul of flood management in England, published today, has reflected a number of concerns raised by the RTPI.
Flood prevention at the right scale
In its evidence submitted in May 2016 the RTPI said that planning was largely preventing development in areas of high flood risk, and that Environment Agency advice was followed in the majority of cases. However, the Institute emphasised the need for long-term flood management at the correct scale, which is usually river catchment areas, coupled with a greater use of natural measures to reduce flood risk.
The Environment Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Select Committee report supported a catchment-based approach and natural techniques, and proposed a new governance model for flood management in England which they believed would help to achieve these objectives.
Sustainable Drainage Systems
The report also repeated the RTPI’s call for the Government to resolve issues around the adoption of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS), and raised our concerns around the lack of deterrents for developers who fail to reduce surface water flooding.
The Committee suggested measures to strengthen policy for SuDS, including removing the automatic right for new developments to connect to the sewer system, introducing a statutory consultee role for Water and Sewage Companies, and making developers liable for the costs of any flooding associated with their development.
James Harris, RTPI Policy and Networks Manager, said:
“We welcome the Committee’s focus on future flood prevention, and are pleased to see a number of our concerns reflected in this report. We would, however, like more clarity from the Committee on how their proposals for reform relate to the devolution agenda, for example on the role of Combined Authorities in addressing flood management.
"Many local authorities and public agencies are under considerable financial strain. Issues of resourcing and capacity need be addressed by government if we are to successfully manage flooding in the future.”
The RTPI has recently collaborated with a number of professional bodies to carry out a ‘Big SuDS Survey’, which gathered views from planners, engineers, environmental scientists and landscape architects on how we can boost the deployment of SuDS.
The Institute will consider the recommendations of the EFRA Committee as we review feedback from our members, and will publish our own proposals in early 2017 to help inform the Government’s SuDS review.
The EFRA Select Committee report can be downloaded here.