We have known about the risks of Surface Water Flooding for over 20 years but it was the Pitt Review that signalled the need for action; successive governments have not acted fast enough to address this growing problem.
Defra ‘Government takes action to manage surface water flood risk
The government will immediately accept 12 recommendations from an independent review into responsibilities around surface water flooding
The government has welcomed the completion of an independent review aimed at reducing the risk of surface water flooding across England and is taking immediate action to implement some of its recommendations. This action will build on the recent publication of the government’s long-term plan for managing flood and coastal erosion risk to create a more resilient nation.
Surface water flooding generally occurs after heavy thunderstorms or rainfall when the volume of rainwater is such that it does not drain away or soak into the ground. More than 3 million properties in England are at risk of surface water flooding and, like all flooding, it can cause devastation to communities. Due to the localised nature of such heavy rain, it can also be very difficult to predict.
The review, which was led by David Jenkins, Chair of the Wessex Regional Flood and Coastal Committee, looked at responsibility for surface water and drainage assets, and has provided recommendations on how to make these arrangements more efficient, straightforward and effective.
While the review will now be considered in full by ministers, the government is immediately accepting 12 of the recommendations. This will ensure better understanding of surface water flood risk by all authorities and a more coordinated and efficient approach across England.
Following on from the review the government will:
- support Local Planning Authorities’ in receiving and understanding the appropriate expert advice on all sources of flood risk – including surface water – so that they can make the right decisions
- review statutory powers and responsibilities to ensure proper inspection and maintenance of privately owned flood assets
- ensure guidance is made available for local authorities investigating flooding, including better engagement with affected communities
- ensure a long-term approach to maintain our network of flood defences across the country, through a combination of investment and action by risk management authorities, government, riparian owners and wider beneficiaries
- assess whether updating the non-statutory technical standards for sustainable drainage systems could help provide for multi-functional benefit sustainable drainage systems and how the findings of research could inform future approaches to boost uptake of effective sustainable drainage systems and support the aims of the National Planning Policy Framework
- ensure guidance is made available for lead local flood authorities on maintaining a register of structures which have an effect on flood risk, helping to ensure a common and comprehensive approach to inspection and maintenance.