The government has (13 March 2024) responded to the Commission’s study on reducing the risks of surface water flooding, published in November 2022. While it accepts the principles behind a number of the Commission’s recommendations, the government’s response – in the Commission’s view – makes few new commitments on steps to manage surface water flood risk more actively, and fails to accelerate work in key areas.

The Commission’s study set out the case for long term flood reduction targets in helping provide strategic direction and accountability, as well as informing joint local plans and investment decisions. This approach has been endorsed by both the Climate Change Committee and the National Audit Office. The government has agreed to consider further the merits of adopting such targets, while continuing work on developing a national set of indicators to monitor trends.

Government has accepted the benefits of closer working between relevant local agencies, and intends to consult on reforms to local flood risk management planning during 2024. But the response stops short of any new commitments to removing the barriers to joint working, and does not accept the case for devolving capital funding directly to local authorities to implement joint local plans.

The Commission encouraged government to address the impact of new property developments, recommending implementation of Schedule 3 of the Flood and Water Management Act by the end of 2023 to ensure new developments adopt sustainable drainage systems and lose an automatic right to connect to the existing sewer system. Government’s response confirms it is still consulting on the implementation of this existing legislation, with the “aim to have finalised the implementation pathway by the end of 2024.” Government has also committed to undertaking a wider review of how policy changes could slow the spread of impermeable surfaces, particularly in urban areas, which it aims to publish by the end of 2024.

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