Previous SectionIndexHome Page

Miss McIntosh: I am pleased to hear from the Minister that the Government are minded to have a sequential league table, but how does it compare with the previous measure of a one in 100 year risk or a one in 200 year risk?

Ms Hughes: The level of risk to which I referred and the probability are not new ways of assessing risk. They are a standard, and they relate to different time scales, other than the annual time scales. The 1 per cent. risk equates to the probability that flooding will occur four times during the length of an average mortgage, which is 30 years, or an evens chance within the human lifespan. They are not new figures: that is an already established standard.

Areas at high risk of flooding that are currently undeveloped will not generally be suitable under the sequential test for residential, commercial and industrial uses unless a particular location is essential: for instance, for navigation, for water-based recreational uses or for essential transport and infrastructure necessary for the population.

Areas at the highest risk from flooding, such as low-lying land behind defences, where failure could lead to rapid inundation by fast-flowing water, may be suitable for recreation, sport and conservation uses provided adequate warning and evacuation procedures are in place, and possibly for essential transport and utilities infrastructure. Residential uses should only be permitted in wholly exceptional circumstances, when no alternative is possible, and should be subject to fully suitable mitigation design and warning and evacuation procedures.

Even in areas at no risk from river or coastal flooding, excessive rainfall can flood low-lying areas and cause flooding as a result of surface flow, particularly from paved areas. The hon. Lady mentioned excessive run-off from developed areas that can cause significant problems downstream, such as the park-and-ride scheme. We shall also be requiring developers and local planning authorities to assess the effects of development on flood risk throughout the river catchment. Guidance on catchment flood management plans based on assessment of catchment flood is currently being prepared under the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and Environment Agency research programme. That will provide a large-scale framework for integrated management of risks associated with high flood flows in a sustainable manner. I understand that parts of the Vale of York will be among the first areas to be examined under that research programme.

The hon. Lady mentioned the importance of design, which is critical. We must also consider the potential effects of climate change, and research on that is taking place. I shall refer to the relevant Minister the points that she made about farmers.

I do not accept the hon. Lady's contention that the Government have absolved themselves of responsibility. I feel very strongly about our approach, which I accept is not yet completely in the public domain because we have

10 Jan 2001 : Column 1211

not yet fully produced PPG25 for her and others to peruse. That will show that, in so far as Governments can act, we have taken this issue seriously; we have responded to the plight of the people affected; and we will require a much more robust approach in response to these issues in the future.

Question put and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at fourteen minutes past Twelve midnight.

10 Jan 2001 : Column 1212

Deferred Divisions

Electoral Commission

10 Jan 2001 : Column 1216

 IndexHome Page