Memorandum submitted by the Minister for
Housing and Planning, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister
CLIMATE CHANGE AND WATER SECURITY
1. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister
(ODPM) works across government to ensure that Departments collectively
deliver thriving, inclusive, sustainable communities, achieving
better quality of life for all.
2. This memorandum outlines Government planning
policies and ongoing actions relevant to this inquiry, including
research, which aim to assist the work in creating sustainable
communities to take full account of the likely implications of
climate change. The potential impact of climate change on flood
risks and the availability of water supply for development are
addressed through strategic spatial planning at the national and
regional scale and through local authority development plans and
decisions on individual planning applications.
3. The Government's planning policies take
account of climate change and aim to ensure that those involved
in regional and local planning do so also. Planning policy guidance
notes (PPGs) clearly establish climate change as a material planning
consideration in the preparation of regional strategies and development
4. PPG 11 Regional planning, published
in October 2000, advises that Regional Planning Bodies (RPBs)
"should consider their regions' vulnerability to climate
change using the most recent climate change scenarios available
from the draft UK climate impacts programme." In particular,
spatial strategies "should take account of the need to avoid
new development in areas that increase vulnerability and consider
possible adaptation options for vulnerable areas."
5. The consultation draft of the new Planning
Policy Statement (PPS) 11 Regional spatial strategies, issued
in October 2003, advises that regional spatial strategies "should
also inform and take account of other strategies and programmes
that have a bearing on land-use activities . . . [including] strategies
to adapt to the effects of climate change."
6. PPG 12 Development plans, published
in December 1999, also advises that development plans should take
environmental considerations, including global climate change,
comprehensively and consistently into account.
7. The consultation draft of the new PPS
1 Creating sustainable communities, issued in March 2004,
includes among the specific objectives for sustainable development
and sustainable communities "the need to address, on the
basis of sound science, the causes and impacts of climate change".
8. In 2000, the then Department for Environment,
Transport and the Regions (DETR) commissioned research to examine
the extent to which climate change was being taken into account
in both national and local land-use planning. The results are
to be published shortly in the form of good practice guidanceThe
planning response to climate change: advice on better practice.
This will provide planning professionals with an overview
of current thinking and the state of knowledge on the planning
response to climate change. It recognises that both the science
of climate change and planning practice in response to it are
still developing but reflects the real urgency to put in place
regional and local planning policies on adaptation to climate
change and to strengthen policies that will mitigate and reduce
greenhouse gas emissions.
9. The advice will set out a range of topics,
including flooding, coasts and water resources, that planning
authorities and developers will need to take into consideration
in the light of developing understanding of the impacts of climate
change. For each topic, it will identify national policy and good
practice with examples of the consideration needed by regional
planning bodies and local authorities in regional spatial strategies
and development plans. It will also include a climate-sensitive
development check-list that could be incorporated into supplementary
planning guidance or into wider sustainable development check-lists
developed and used by development control officers.
10. In addition, ODPM has co-operated widely
with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)
and the UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP) on research with
particular relevance to planning. A recent example is the ongoing
joint UKCIP/EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research
Council) project on "Adaptation strategies for climate change
within the urban environment".
11. Government policy on planning in relation
to flood management in England is contained in PPG 25 Development
and flood risk, published in July 2001. This takes full account
of climate change in its advocacy of a precautionary risk-based
approach to planning decisions that recognises the large uncertainties
in the prediction of flood-risk and the assessment of the impacts
of climate change. The risk-based approach gives priority to development
in lower-risk areas but recognises that the extent of existing
development in more vulnerable areas will necessitate some continuing
development in those high-risk areas that are already developed.
Not to do so would effectively blight a significant proportion
of existing development. PPG 25 recommends a minimum standard
of defence for new housing that takes account of climate change
for the lifetime of the development.
12. Advice on climate change in PPG 25 is
based on the results of Defra evaluation of the UKCIP scenarios
1998 and their potential impact on flood risk. However, it recognises
the gaps in our understanding of how the changing climate will
affect the areas currently at risk of flooding. While climate
change will increase the risk, there is a lack of quantified and
robust information to be more specific. For that reason, the Government
is committed to review PPG 25 "three years after publication
in the light of further evidence then available on climate change
and emerging experience of its implementation and effectiveness."
This review will start later this year and will take into account
the latest climate change scenarios UKCIP 2002 as well as the
extensive longer-term study by the Office of Science and Technology
Foresight Flood and coastal defence project, which is to be published
on 22 April.
13. PPG 25 already recognises the increased
impact likely to arise from intra-urban flooding (ie flooding
due to heavy rainstorms overwhelming local drainage systems rather
than to overflowing rivers or overtopping of coastal defences).
This is a feature that is highlighted in the Foresight study.
One means of mitigating those impacts is the use of appropriately
designed sustainable drainage systems (SUDS). PPG 25 strongly
supports their use.
14. Part H (Drainage and waste disposal)
of the Building Regulations 2001 were amended, with effect from
1 April 2002, to introduce a hierarchy of surface drainage options
for new development that gives priority to infiltration and other
more sustainable systems. New guidance to Part H recommends that
anti-flood devices are fitted to buildings that have basements
or are in areas where it is known that sewers back up when heavily
loaded. Part H also recommends that rainwater drainage to structures
that have complex roof layouts or buildings that house vulnerable
users should be designed using specific rainfall intensity data
rather than using traditional rules of thumb. This should limit
damage to buildings caused by overflowing internal gutters.
15. In addition, ODPM has been working further
on SUDS with Defra, the Environment Agency, Water UK, the Local
Government Association and others in the National SUDS Working
Group. This aims to develop and publish in the summer an interim
Code of Practice on SUDS to encourage the implementation of SUDS
in new and existing developments through the provision of basic
guidance to make the adoption and allocation of maintenance for
SUDS more straightforward.
16. ODPM continues to be involved with research
by the Construction Industry Research and Information Association
(CIRIA) and HR Wallingford Ltd on different aspects of SUDS relevant
to their consideration in the planning system, including an examination
of the potential conflicts between SUDS and high-density development
and how these might be resolved.
17. ODPM has continued to support relevant
research on flooding that could have planning implications. For
example, in 2002, interim guidance on flood-resistant construction
techniques that could be applied to residential and small commercial
buildings was published (Living with floods). ODPM, Defra
and the Environment Agency have worked together to improve the
quality and accessibility of information on the flood-resistance
and repair of buildings after flooding. It has now been determined
that resistance to flooding is within the scope of the Building
Regulations. In order to develop standards and guidance research
projects on flood resistance and flood resilience are being evaluated.
18. Part C of the Building Regulations deals
with Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture.
A revised Approved Document and amendment Regulations will be
published very soon. Flood resistance is specifically addressed
by improved guidance on enhanced sub-soil drainage, floors in
contact with very permeable strata and provision for the inspection
of floor voids that may be inundated. The moisture referred to
in Part C is mainly weather related. The guidance to Part C has
been expanded to include maps showing shrinkable clays, provision
for thermal movement in walls, better weather resistance of window
openings and the information to improve designers and installers
awareness of the relationship between wall construction, weather
exposure and type of cavity insulation. Used together this information
should improve the weather resistance of buildings as the effects
of climate change start to impact.
19. ODPM continues to co-operate with Defra
and the Environment Agency on its joint research programme on
flood and coastal management and is also involved in the EPSRC
research consortium on flood risk management. For example, later
in 2004, CIRIA will be publishing guidance on the levels of flood
risk assessment appropriate to different stages in the development
process in its proposed documentDevelopment and flood
risk: guidance for the construction industry. This work has
been part-funded by ODPM since it will assist greatly in the implementation
of PPG 25 and its recommendation that those proposing development
should carry out appropriate flood-risk assessments.
20. ODPM is match-funding a number of international
projects under the EU Interreg programmes, including work on flood-risk
management and spatial planning in East Anglia, the Humber Estuary,
the Thames Estuary and the Espace project. The latter (European
spatial planning: adapting to climate events) aims to develop
an integrated spatial planning mechanism that will deliver economic,
social and environmental development that is sustainable in terms
of climate change. Led by Hampshire County Council, partners include
South-east England authorities and regional organisations, the
Environment Agency and equivalent organisations in Germany, Belgium
and the Netherlands.
21. The availability of water resources
for development is clearly established as a material planning
consideration. PPG 23, published in 1994, indicates that the supply
of water can be a material consideration in planning applications
and appeals and should be taken into account in drawing up development
22. PPGs 11 and 12 and their draft successors
issued as consultation documents in autumn 2003 emphasise the
need for the availability of water resources to be taken into
account in drawing up regional strategies and development plans.
The ease and cost of supply and the availability of water resources
and sewerage infrastructure may be a factor in determining the
location of development within regions and at local planning authority
level. Early consultation with water companies and the Environment
Agency is strongly recommended as an aid to the achievement of
23. ODPM has been involved in CIRIA research
on sustainable water management in the planning of new development.
This is likely to be published later in 2004. In addition, the
Sustainable Buildings Task Force, jointly sponsored by ODPM, Defra
and the Department of Trade and Industry, is examining the potential
for increasing water efficiency in new development.
24. The Sustainable Communities plan,
published in 2003, has been driven by the need to meet the
demand for housing and employment in the growth areas of the south-east
and to revitalise communities in the north and midlands. While
the risk of flooding and the potential impact of climate change
on it will need equally to be considered in the areas of low demand
in the north and midlands, these factors, together with the availability
of water resources are key elements in planning for the growth
areas in the south-east. These are generally in locations where
water resources are already under stress and they also include
significant areas that are currently at risk of flooding and where
that risk is expected to increase as a result of climate change.
Appropriate responses are therefore required if the physical sustainability
of the growth areas is to be secured.
25. As the most advanced in its planning,
as well as the largest of the growth areas, Thames Gateway serves
as a useful model for the consideration of climate change and
water security that the development process requires. This model
will be taken forward in the consideration of the other growth
areas as their planning and development proceed.
26. The Government has committed support
to enable the development of at least 120,000 homes with associated
infrastructure, employment opportunities and community facilities
by 2016. The Thames Gateway Strategic Partnership have identified
14 zones of change, which are located largely on previously developed
land within or immediately adjacent to existing urban areas.
27. A large proportion of the new development
is to be constructed in areas that are identified by the Environment
Agency as at risk of flooding (though most of these are currently
defended to a very high standard). ODPM has worked with the Environment
Agency, which sits on the Thames Gateway Strategic Partnership's
Environment Sub-Group and is closely involved with the Thames
Estuary 2100 project. This Defra-funded project aims to develop
over the next five years a flood management strategy for the Thames
Estuary which will take account of climate change expected over
the next 100 years. This project feeds into the Interreg IIIB
Creative flood management project partly supported by ODPM
match-funding. The Agency have advised ODPM and the delivery vehicles
on flood risks within the Gateway, on the potential requirements
for future development to minimise those risks and on the requirements
for flood-risk assessment relevant to the different stages of
the planning process.
28. Thames Gateway is also an area of limited
local water resources. The opportunities to develop new water
supplies that would have sustainable environmental impacts are
few and even the best of these could be contentious. ODPM has
therefore consulted the Environment Agency and the water industry
on the potential problems, including the implications of climate
29. The use of sustainable drainage systems
as part of the water management train will assist in improving
the efficiency of water use as part of this strategy. In particular,
the potential for harvesting rainwater and the operation of SUDS
in conjunction with the Gateway's Green space strategy will assist
in achieving sustainable water management.
30. Government policies on planning and
sustainable communities already take account of climate change
and its impact on the security of water supplies and flood management.
While we have not yet found all the answers, a considerable amount
of research and associated activity has been completed or is in
progress. The Government is encouraging close co-operation with
all the relevant stakeholders, to enable the implications of climate
change on sustainable water management to be addressed.
The Rt Hon Keith Hill MP
Minister for Housing and Planning,
Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.