Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by the Rt Hon David Cameron MP (FL MP 15)

  Thank you for your letter of 24th July, giving me notice that the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee will be examining flooding when the House returns.

  I am most grateful for letting me know about this inquiry, particularly because my own constituency of Witney was so badly hit during the recent floods. I am sorry for the delay in getting back in touch with you, but I have been keen to consult with both members of my local community in Witney who were affected by the floods, and also with the Shadow DEFRA Team.

  Please find attached some issues that the Committee might like to consider in their upcoming inquiry.

  Thank you, once again, for taking the time and trouble to get in touch with me. I hope these suggestions are useful.


    —  The vulnerability of our public infrastructure to flooding and the siting and resilience of key water and electricity installations (for example, Walham Power Station, which supplies 500,000 homes, was very nearly inundated).

    —  The impact of last year's £14 million cut to the Environment Agency's maintenance budget.

    —  Co-ordination—both at Government level and regionally/locally. Chief fire officers have commented on institutional confusion between the numerous agencies involved in dealing with floods. There appears a need for a much clearer line of responsibility for flood prevention and tackling emergencies.

    —  Communication between the Environment Agency, Met Office, emergency services and local authorities.

    —  Building on flood plains. Half the post-war building in the UK is on flood plains, and a lot of new building is destined to be so built. At present, a quarter of all planning applications opposed by the Environment Agency still go ahead. The Environment Agency was given new powers in January to refer such developments to the Secretary of State.

    —  The priority accorded by local authorities and the highway agencies towards the essential work of properly maintaining drains and culverts.

    —  The adequacy of early warning systems and information available to the public, given the specific and advance warnings of extreme weather that the Met Office can provide.

    —  The efficacy and location of temporary flood barriers (there were reports that the Environment Agency was unable to install vital flood defences because they were stored too far away from where they were needed and got caught in the general chaos that made the roads impassable).

Rt Hon David Cameron MP


September 2007

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