Select Committee announcement number 05/Session 2014-15

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Committee

Select Committee Announcement

STRICTLY EMBARGOED: 00.01am, Tuesday 17 June 2014

FLOOD PROTECTION FOR COMMUNITIES MUST TAKE

PRIORITY OVER COST-CUTTING, SAY MPs

The Government must not neglect maintenance of flood defences and

watercourses if homes, businesses and farmland are to gain better

protection against future flooding risk, warn MPs today in a report of an

inquiry triggered by the recent winter floods.

Launching its Report on Winter Floods, the Chair of the Environment,

Food and Rural Affairs Committee, Miss Anne McIntosh said:

“We have repeatedly called on the Government to increase revenue

funding so that necessary dredging and watercourse maintenance can be

carried out to minimise flood risk, yet funding for maintenance funding

remains at a bare minimum. Ministers must take action now to avoid a

repeat of the devastation caused by the winter floods.”

Maintenance and dredging

The Committee calls for fully funded plans to address the current backlog

of dredging and watercourse maintenance as well as to maintain the

growing numbers of man-made flood defences.

"Regular work to dredge and keep rivers clear can be an essential flood

prevention measure, yet this is exactly what gets squeezed out when

budgets are tight. The Government needs to recognise the importance of

regular maintenance work and put it on an equal footing with building

new defences" explains Miss Anne McIntosh.

Local knowledge

Miss McIntosh added “local knowledge is key and flood risk management

priorities must reflect the local circumstances”.

MPs support the devolution of maintenance activity to internal drainage

boards and to local landowners, wherever possible. The Committee also

urges the Government to address the confusion over maintenance

responsibilities through a widespread education campaign.

Environment Agency funding cuts

Select Committee announcement number 05/Session 2014-15

The Committee warns that it is essential that Environment Agency funding

cuts do not lead to unintended consequences where funding is redirected

to one operational area to the detriment of another. The Report also calls

for a reassurance from Defra that frontline flood jobs at the Environment

Agency will not be cut.

Funding budgets

The Committee identifies the current split between capital and revenue

budgets as a major barrier to targeting funding according to local

priorities.

"We want clarity for everyone when it comes to flood funding budgets"

says Anne McIntosh. "We see no reason why the Government cannot

move to a total expenditure approach for flood funding to allow more

flexibility to spend in the most effective way".

FURTHER INFORMATION:

Committee Membership is as follows: Miss Anne McIntosh (Chair), Richard Drax, Jim Fitzpatrick, Mrs Mary

Glindon, Mrs Emma Lewell-Buck, Iain McKenzie, Sheryll Murray, Neil Parish, Ms Margaret Ritchie, Mr Mark

Spencer, Roger Williams

Specific Committee Information: efracom@parliament.uk/ 020 7219 2290/ 020 7219 5774

Media Information: Hannah Pearce pearcehm@parliament.uk/ 020 7219 8430

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