Flood defences criticised

June 27, 2016 11:28 am

As I’m sitting here, it’s getting towards the end of June and it’s absolutely tipping down with rain. There have been severe weather warnings for a week or so, and now there are reports of flash flooding across the country, including in the West Midlands and Devon.

These days, heavy rain is all too often followed by floods. So it was timely to read that MPs have just published a report which concludes that the Government is not doing enough to protect communities at risk of flooding. According to the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), the Government should be taking a more long-term approach rather than a reactive one, and it should also pay for the upkeep of existing flood defences as well as investing in new ones.

The EAC also criticised the allocation of an extra £700m funding for flood defences announced in this year’s Budget, which it said was based on a ‘political calculation’ and won’t be allocated on the same strict economic criteria as the £2.3bn previously announced. This would lead to ‘inefficiencies in flood investments, poor decision-making and outcomes that were potentially unfair to some regions’, according to BBC News.

The report also asked what has happened to Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems, known as SUDS. These have been recommended by engineers for a decade, but the EAC has accused the Government of repeatedly ‘kicking this issue into the long grass’.

One of the key aims of SUDS is to stop developers of new housing estates simply connecting to the existing drainage system and thereby increasing the risk of flooding. Instead, they should catch water on site through porous surfaces, glassy hollows and on-side mini wetlands. House-builders have opposed SUDS, partly because it would impact on their profits and partly because of issues around long-term maintenance.

The EAC report will be considered as part of the national flood resilience review which was launched by the Government in January and should be published soon. In the meantime, the rain continues to fall….