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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the Environment Agency expects to publish amendments
to its flood risk maps available to the public on their website based on data collected from events since May 2007. 
Mr. Woolas: The Government continue to work closely with the Environment Agency, other delivery partners and stakeholders, to ensure that any guidance on managing flood risk is fit for purpose. Our Making Space for Water strategy is looking at a number of areas where guidance could be refined, in particular for appraisal of flood defence schemes.
Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures are being considered to create, manage and improve existing flood plans, drainage and ditches systems to act as natural flood defences for future flood protection. 
Mr. Woolas: The Environment Agency exercises general supervision over all matters relating to flood defence and is the principle flood risk management operating authority in England. Local authorities and internal drainage boards also have permissive powers to manage flood risk and drainage in certain areas. All operating authorities are responsible for considering appropriate measures to manage flood risk in their areas of responsibility in line with their own operational guidance and DEFRAs policy guidance. DEFRA guidance encourages operating authorities to work with natural processes where possible, and to consider the benefits of improving the storage capacity of flood plains and ditch systems where this is a viable means of managing flood risk.
The Environment Agency also advises local planning authorities on the appropriateness and impacts of development in areas of flood risk with a view to making sure that the capacity of the functional flood plain to reduce risks is given appropriate consideration in land use planning.
Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidance is being given to farmers on (a) contour ploughing and (b) grass and natural planting along river banks to help manage flood waters in high risk areas. 
A review of the impacts of land use and management on flood generation has been carried out through the joint DEFRA/Environment Agency research project FD2114 (2004). This identified a number of measures that can help to mitigate localised flooding by delaying run-off; including cultivation
techniques such as contour ploughing and land management measures such as the use of grass buffer strips.
As part of DEFRAs Making Space for Water strategy, two projects are examining the role that rural land use and land management can play in managing flood risk at the farm and catchment scale. These projects will deliver recommendations in 2008 and inform future advice to farmers and farming representatives.
Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what capital projects there are in the Environment Agency's forward programme to alleviate flooding along the River Loddon in Berkshire. 
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the current estimate is of the coastal surge risk over the next four years; and how this estimate will be kept under review. 
Mr. Woolas: The current estimate of surge risk is linked to the estimate of storminess over the next four years. Analysis of the weather over the last 50 years has shown a trend for strengthening winds in the Atlantic with wide yearly variability.
The Environment Agency now oversee the Storm Tide Forecasting Service, the tide gauge network, which forecasts and measures surge events, with Wavenet, which measures wave size and strength. These services are provided to the agency to support their short-term forecasting in partnership with the Met Office, Proudman Oceonographic Laboratory and the Government scientists at the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science.
Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects the Environment Agency to publish guidance to landowners on the maintenance of sea defences. 
I have also arranged for copies to be placed in the Libraries of the House. The Environment Agency has also produced a leaflet summarising the landowner policy options. This is currently being printed and should be available in all the Environment Agencys area offices by the end of October.
Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects the Environment Agency to publish the (a) Blackwater and Colne Estuary Management Plan and (b) Crouch and Roach Estuary Management Plan. 
The Agency submitted the Roach and Crouch Estuary Strategy to DEFRA in 2006. This was acknowledged, although not formally approved, in May 2007 as representing the right long term approach and framework for action for both these estuaries.
The Strategy is a public document and has been approved by the Anglian (Eastern) Regional Flood Defence Committee and the Environment Agency Board. The Agency is progressing work on the ground in accordance with the Roach and Crouch Strategy and will bring the Strategy in line with the new DEFRA guidance when it is next reviewed in four years time.
Mr. Woolas: DEFRA has overall policy responsibility for flood and coastal erosion risk management in England, funds most of the Environment Agencys flood related work and grant aids individual capital improvement projects undertaken by local authorities and internal drainage boards. The programme to manage risk is driven by these operating authorities; DEFRA does not carry out works, nor direct the authorities on which specific projects to undertake.
The sea defences in Maldon district are inspected annually by the Environment Agency. The last inspection was in late September and October 2006. This years inspections will begin shortly. The findings are used to plan and prioritise refurbishment work for future years.
Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many properties in (a) Maldon district and (b) Chelmsford borough are located in areas at one in 200 year risk of flooding. 
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The Environment Agency is working with Ryedale district council to look at lower cost options to reduce flood risk in Pickering, such as home owners installing flood barriers to doors. The Environment Agency is also working closely with the town council which intends to develop an emergency flood plan for the town in addition to setting up a flood warden scheme.
Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Environment Agency has taken to divert water on to farmland adjacent to the River Thames above (a) Oxford and (b) Reading to avoid urban flooding. 
During periods of moderate flow, all the weirs on the River Thames are operated to maintain the upstream water levelor headwater levelat, or close to, the standard headwater level for each weir. Standard headwater levels are set by the Environment Agency in connection with their statutory powers as the navigation authority for the River Thames.
After periods of wet weather, Environment Agency staff progressively open the gates of each weir as far as necessary to accommodate any increase in flow while still maintaining standard headwater level.
Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what additional support his Department is providing to ensure that those areas in Westmorland and Lonsdale which are most at risk do not suffer flooding; 
Overall Government funding for flood and coastal erosion risk management will rise from the £600 million this year to £800 million in 2010-11. Investment is prioritised in order to reduce the threat to
people and their property and deliver the greatest environmental, social and economic benefit, consistent with the Government's sustainable development principles.
Within the Westmorland and Lonsdale constituency, the Environment Agency has an ongoing programme of prioritised maintenance works for flood defences and river systems. The Agency also has a programme of investigations and studies which aim to identify improvement works for inclusion in their medium to long-term capital investment programme.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what EU funding is available in the event of emergency flooding; what applications he has made to access this funding; what criteria apply for such applications to be granted; and whether matched funding is required. 
The EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) was set up in November 2002 as a result of the extreme flooding disaster that hit Central Europe in the summer of 2002. The purpose of the fund is to provide financial assistance to the regions of Europe in dealing with an extraordinary major or regional disaster of natural causes, including severe flooding. The fund is specifically targeted at support for emergency relief action, cleaning up and getting destroyed infrastructure back into working order. Match funding is not required under the EUSF.
Before a member state can apply for support from the fund, the total amount of damages incurred in a major disaster must exceed a specific level. The EUSFs eligibility threshold for what are termed National Level Disasters is for all damages, insurable and uninsurable, to exceed €3 billion (2002 prices) or 0.6 per cent. of the affected countrys Gross National Income (GNI), whichever is the lower, in order to qualify for assistance. The UK current estimate for total damage suffered in the June and July floods is €4 billion (£2.9 billion).
An application for support from the EUSF in respect of the June and July flooding in England, Wales and Northern Ireland was lodged with the Commission on 20 August and is currently being discussed with them. The application is not a bid as it will be for the Commission to decide whether, and if so at what level, support will be offered. Applications by other member states to the EUSF have resulted in offers of support ranging between 2.5 per cent. and 5 per cent. of the total damage suffered.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate his Department has made of the cost of the 2007 foot and mouth outbreak to (a) farmers within the surveillance zone and (b) farmers in England. 
[holding answer 17 September 2007]: DEFRA has made an initial estimate of the total costs of the outbreak to the UK of £20 million, based on an
economic model that has been developed for foot and mouth disease. The full impact will depend on domestic and international restrictions that remain in place and the estimate may be revised as further data become available. Disaggregated estimates of the cost to farmers in the surveillance zones or the whole of England would be unreliable.
The Forestry Commission is a cross border body and has two press officers for GB and International issues and two press officers for England. In addition a further communications professional provides cover for holidays and weekends.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will list the requests made to the Government for funding to maintain, upgrade or replace facilities at government-run laboratories for which his Department is responsible in each year since 2001, broken down by laboratory. 
Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 17 September 2007]: The Government-run laboratories for which DEFRA is responsible are the Centre for Environment Aquaculture and Fisheries Science, the Central Science Laboratory and the Veterinary Laboratories Agency. DEFRA agrees annual business plans and budgets with these agencies. It is then for the respective laboratory management teams to decide how to maintain, upgrade or replace facilities within that funding structure. Major capital investment projects (for example, laboratory replacement) are agreed with and funded by DEFRA.
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