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Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much has been spent in each of the past five years by (a) the Environment Agency, (b) the operating authorities,
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(c) her Department and (d) local authorities on flood defence in (i) the Thames Valley, (ii) Surrey and (iii) Spelthorne. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 31 January 2003]: Defra provides grant aid to operating authorities, normally the Environment Agency (EA) and local councils, for capital flood defence works that meet set criteria. Grant paid to EA Thames region in each of the past five years is as follows:
The Environment Agency estimates that their expenditure on studies, capital improvements and maintenance in the past five years in the lower Thames Valley was £11.9 million, of which £4.9 million was in Spelthorne and £6.3 million elsewhere in Surrey.
Further breakdowns and figures for expenditure by local authorities could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what works have been carried out in Spelthorne to prevent flooding in each of the past five years; and how much each project cost. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 31 January 2003]: Information is only readily available for projects undertaken by the Environment Agency as follows:
|Ash, Feltham Hill Brook, Portlane Brook, Thames maintenance works||50||50||50||50||50||250|
|Colne, Wraysbury, Colnebrook maintenance works||100||100||100||100||100||500|
|Lino Mill (Lower Colne Improvement Scheme)||720||||||||||720|
|Stanwell (Lower Colne Improvement Scheme)||||||50||100||2,860||3,010|
|Shepperton weir A Improvements||||||||||105||105|
|Shepperton weir B rebuild||||||||80||120||200|
Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she plans to take to prevent a repeat of the recent floods in the lower Thames Valley. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 31 January 2003]: Operational responsibility for flood management measures rests with the local operating authorities, normally the Environment Agency (EA) and local councils, who decide which projects to promote and their timing.
I understand that the EA is already reviewing short-term actions such as encouraging residents to take up the flood warning service, providing advice on practical measures for people to protect themselves and their property, and ensuring that the Agency's Floodline service gives accurate and timely advice.
In addition, the EA will continue to promote a Flood Risk Management Plan for the area in partnership with local authorities and other organisations. Through the plan, the EA will seek to manage and reduce flood risk through the control of development in the flood plain, provide an enhanced flood warning strategy and deal with the longer term impacts of climate change. The EA is also reappraising options for flood alleviation measures in areas at risk of flooding.
Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the role the Jubilee River scheme played in this month's floods in the lower Thames Valley. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 31 January 2003]: The Environment Agency's (EA) initial findings from measurements made from weir gauges is that there is no evidence that the Jubilee River has caused downstream
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water levels to rise, and that in the recent flooding event, the rates of rise upstream and downstream of the Jubilee River were very comparable.
The EA has commissioned independent engineering consultants to rerun an updated hydraulic model using 2003 flood data to determine the impact on downstream flood levels. Their preliminary findings show no significant difference between downstream levels, with or without the flood alleviation channel, in the River Thames just downstream of where the Jubilee River rejoins it. I understand the EA plans to make this data and the analysis available to the public.
Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of key flood defence systems in urban areas were in (a) good condition, or better and (b) poor condition, or worse on (i) 1 January 2001, (ii) 1 January 2002 and (iii) 1 January 2003. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 3 February 2003]: Flood defence assets are defined as one of two types, defences or structures and each type has been assessed separately. Defences are generally linear barriers such as embankments or walls etc. between the river (or sea) and the area defended while structures include outfalls, sluices, weirs or pumping stations.
Currently, the Environment Agency does not differentiate between urban and rural communities in line with Defra High Level Targets.
Tables 1 and 2 show the condition of the defences and structures respectively, assessed during the financial years 200001 and 200102. There is no comparative data available at present from the inspections carried out during the current financial year, that data will be available by April 2003 to allow reporting of High Level Target 5 to Defra.
|Very good||Good||Fair||Poor||Very poor|
|Very good||Good||Fair||Poor||Very poor|
The method used to identify the number of assets is flexible, allowing them to be classified as either a complete structure or as a number of components, this leads to apparent anomalies in the data reported. Work is being undertaken to ensure that by April 2003 reporting is fully consistent.
The duration covered by the data set is too short to allow any meaningful analysis of any trends in changes to the condition of assets. In addition, there are variations in the way that the data has been collected that are still being resolved, in effect the data set is still being "bedded down" and any apparent trends are as likely to be as a result of changes to the data as to changes to the defences and structures. It could be a number of years before meaningful trends start to emerge from the data.
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David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action her Department will take over cases where insurance companies are not honouring the Statement of Principles on flood insurance. 
Mr. Morley: It is not for Government to intervene in commercial decisions taken by individual insurance companies. It is for the Association of British Insurers and not for Government to take appropriate action where the actions of their member companies are not in line with the Statement of Principles. Government will be continuing discussions with the ABI, who will be reviewing the Statement of Principles annually.
Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on progress with the preparation of a catchment flood management plan for the Thames Valley. 
Mr. Morley: The Department is promoting the Catchment Flood Management Plan (CFMP) initiative with the Environment Agency and has to date made funds available for five pilot studies. The Agency has developed a programme for delivery of CFMPs to cover the whole of England over the next five years.
The Thames valley will be covered by eight plans; one for the River Thames itself and seven others on the major tributaries. The scoping phase of these plans has just started and is programmed to be complete by September.
Once the scoping work has been completed, subject to a satisfactory review of the five pilot plans, the main studies will begin. Currently, the eight plans for the Thames valley are scheduled to be completed by December 2005.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the risk of development in areas at risk of flooding as a result of the Government's proposals for large-scale housing development in the (a) Milton Keynes, (b) Ashford and (c) Thames Gateway areas. 
Margaret Beckett: My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister's proposals for large-scale housing development in Milton Keynes, Ashford, Thames Gateway and the Lond-Stansted-Cambridge area were announced in his statement on sustainable communities, housing and planning on 18 July 2002, Official Report, column 438. Development proposals will be subject to an appropriate flood-risk assessment and full consultation with the Environment Agency.
For example, Thames Gateway Strategic Executive have been co-operating with the agency for over a year. The agency is a member of the Environment Sub-Group
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of the Strategic Partnership. It has already produced environmental constraint maps for each of the zones of change within Thames Gateway. A similar level of co-operation and consultation will form the basis for detailed proposals in the other major growth areas.
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