Unite to prevent more floods - call

THE head of the Environment Agency has called for a more co-ordinated approach to surface water flooding following this summer's devastation in parts of South Yorkshire.

Speaking at a fringe event at the Labour Party conference in Bournemouth, Baroness Young said that no organisation previously had specific responsibility for the problem.

Now she wants the Environment Agency to be given a national lead on the issue, in a bid to prevent a repeat of the devastation caused by this summer’s floods.

Baroness Young said: “The Environment Agency is responsible for managing flood risk from rivers and our seas but not at the moment for our surface water systems.

“And that is very much one of the issues that came to the fore in the floods.

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    “Because though we have worked for some time to improve flood risk management from seas and rivers, the majority of the flooding this summer came simply because the water fell out of the sky, the drains overflowed and surface water built up very rapidly.

    “So we do very much want to see a much more coordinated approach to flooding from all sources inland, including surface water drains, which will hopefully mean a national role for the Environment Agency.”

    Baroness Young said that currently, the issue of responsibility for surface water flooding is “very, very unclear.”

    She said: “Everybody has a role; water companies have a role, local authorities have a role, we have a role and that means nobody has a role.

    “So what it needs is much better co-ordination.”

    Baroness Young said that the Environment Agency now has to work with local authorities to make sure that their surface water plans are “climate change-proofed” in the future.

    Baroness Young also warned local authorities about allowing building on flood plains. She said that 25 major developments have been built against the Agency’s advice over the past two years.

    And she suggested that insurance companies could play a role in protecting homeowners in flood-hit by refurbishing homes in a way that is flood resistant.

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