Select Committee on Agriculture Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by WWF-UK (L 6)

  WWF-UK welcomes the decision by the Agriculture Select Committee to hold a further session on flood and coastal defence. Recent events have demonstrated that, as well as having profound implications for the environment and for wildlife, this is an issue of the utmost importance for many people across the UK.

  WWF-UK agrees with the general themes and many of the specific points raised in the Select Committee's 1998 report on flooding and it is not our intention to revisit that report in detail here. However, it is WWF-UK's strong opinion that, while there may be instances where such schemes are needed, it is no longer appropriate to spend the bulk of the flood defence budget on the construction of ever more expensive defences that are often ineffective or that may even exacerbate flooding. Instead, the Government should seize the opportunity provided by the EU Water Framework Directive to devise integrated river basin management plans that work with nature to limit the risk to lives, property and wildlife from these unpredictable and often devastating events.

  More specifically, WWF-UK has, in collaboration with The Wildlife Trusts, devised a five-point proposal that calls for a radical overhaul of the Government's flood protection policies (see attached copy). In summary, this proposal demands Government investment in and support for:

    —  A strategic framework for managing river basins.

    —  Planing guidance that emphasises the need to protect floodplains from unsustainable development.

    —  The incorporation of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) in all new developments.

    —  Wetland restoration as a means of flood management.

    —  Farmers and land owners, who have a key role to play in flood management.

  Clearly, many of the points in the proposal echo those in the Select Committee's 1998 report. With this in mind, WWF-UK calls on the Select Committee to renew its demands for a more integrated approach to flood management. The increased frequency of flooding due to climate change is inevitable. We need to act now for the long-term protection of people and the environment. Environmental regulators need to adopt a broader view of water management and flood defence that encompasses the whole water basin rather than concentrating on individual rivers and streams.

23 November 2000

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