Memorandum submitted by Peter Luff MP
(FL MP 06)
I am grateful for your Chairman's letter of
24 July about flooding.
As Chairman of the old Agriculture Committee
at the time of the 1998 floods I particularly hope you will pay
attention to the recommendations of the report we produced "Flood
and Coastal Defence" in July of that year.
The latest floods in Evesham are the most severe
the town has ever had, and certainly a good deal more serious
than the dramatic events of 1998.
I have heard little criticism of the work of
the emergency services, but one issue I think your committee does
need to consider is the effectiveness of cross border communications
between different regions. The second series of floods this year
affected three government regions and three counties all adjoining
each other, or very nearly soWest Midlands, South West
and South East, or Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire.
The emergency services feel that the coordination could have been
better across these regional boundaries.
The increased risk of flooding in Evesham and
Droitwich apparent from the statistics does suggest that the Environment
Agency will have to look at the feasibility of erecting flood
defences in areas previously considered not to have a sufficient
cost benefit figure to justify such constructions.
I am also becoming concerned about the increasing
uninsurability of properties that are regularly flooded. While
I acknowledge that inappropriately constructed buildings may not
be able to attract insurance, buildings erected in good faith
and particularly buildings that have been there for a considerable
period of time, should be able to be insured. The impact of climate
change should be fairly spread among society and not targeted
on a few properties.
The long term economic consequences of floods
also needs to be born more carefully in mindboth my town
centres flooded in my constituency and the long term damage done
to the economy of these towns could be very serious indeed. The
adequacy of support programmes to re-establish the economies of
flooded areas looks to me to be an important question.
Obviously we are concerned about preventing
future floods and in this context building on the flood plan is
a controversial area now in my county, facing ambitious housing
targets set out in the Regional Spatial Strategy. It is difficult
to see how such houses can be constructed without a further adverse
impact on the flood risk both to those houses and to those houses
Another point that should be born in mind is
perhaps the increased tendency of new housing development to be
more concrete-intensive than it used to be, with smaller gardens
and those gardens that are constructed are often concreted over.
This means that such housing developments are even more likely
to cause enhanced flood risk. Detailed planning regulations probably
need to be revised in this area.
The funding arrangements for assisting local
authorities is also a matter of considerable concern. The current
estimate in Worcestershire is that some £5 million worth
of capital damage has been done to our highways and additional
sums for our schools. Our schools may be insured, but the highways
certainly aren't and a hard-pressed county council like Worcestershire
can't suddenly find £5 million to make good damage to existing
Finally, a word about mixed messages on health
warnings. There has been some confusion in this area as people
have heard that the sludge is too dangerous to touch and bugs
can even be transmitted through rubber gloves, while others have
just got on the job of cleaning up in their properties. This is
a small point, but one worth clarifying.
I hope these comments help, but if further issues
come to light as I receive further correspondence from my affected
constituents I will of course let you know.
Peter Luff MP