Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Fifth Report

10  Implementation of the Pitt Review

118. The Pitt Review's final report will be published in the summer of 2008. It will produce a series of costed recommendations to Government, and other organisations.[208] Defra is responsible for co-ordinating the overall response to the Review.[209] In evidence, however, the Department was not specific about how the final conclusions would be implemented—beyond saying the Department's plans and resource allocations would be transparent, and pressure would be maintained by the public and Members of Parliament.[210]

119. Defra has received criticism for its implementation of previous flood-related reports. CIWEM told us that lessons from previous reviews had been "noted rather than actually learned or acted upon".[211] The Agency also expressed concern about the pace of implementing some Making Space for Water measures.[212]

Our views

120. Sir Michael Pitt's final report is likely to make a whole host of recommendations to a wide variety of organisations, and the programme of implementation is likely to last many years. It is Defra's responsibility to co-ordinate this and force the pace of implementation. We are concerned that Defra has not been able to assure us that implementation of Sir Michael Pitt's report will be monitored in a robust manner. We are also concerned that the Department's target to make £96 million of efficiency savings in its flood and coastal erosion risk management programme by 2010-11—which the Department acknowledges may impact the Agency's workforce size—may affect its ability to carry out its Pitt Review responsibilities.[213]

121. Following the publication of the Pitt Review's final report, the Department must publish a costed and prioritised action plan to set out the timetable for implementing Sir Michael Pitt's findings. It would also be regrettable to lose the experience Sir Michael Pitt has on this issue. We recommend that the Government request that Sir Michael Pitt be given a role within the Environment Agency to ensure the implementation of his findings. These measures should reassure the public—especially those who have been flooded—that the Government is addressing this issue and ensuring it remains a high priority, even when flooding has dropped down the news 'agenda'.

208   Q 700. Pitt Review, Learning the lessons from the 2007 floods, December 2007, p 6. Back

209   Q 992 [Defra] Back

210   Q 988 Back

211   Ev 479 Back

212   Q 2. Natural England also expressed concern at the slow implementation of Making Space for Water projects related to sustainable flood defence solutions [Ev 273]. Back

213   Defra, Value for Money Delivery Agreement Comprehensive Spending Review 2007, February 2008, p 3. Back

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