Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by Clive Betts MP (FL MP 16)

  I received a letter from the EFRA Committee Chair, Michael Jack, at the end of the Parliamentary session with regard to your committee's forthcoming enquiry into flooding, as my constituency has been affected. The following are issues of general relevance which have arisen out of the floods which I believe would benefit from investigation.


  The division of responsibility for drainage between local authorities, the Environment Agency and water companies needs to be examined. Flooding problems in an area can often be due to a combination of different factors for which different authorities have responsibility and it is often not precisely clear who is responsible for what. There may even be some matters for which no-one appears to have responsibility. In general there is no overall authority which can act as the lead co-ordinator. This is an issue which was raised with me very strongly by officers of Sheffield City Council and one which I think requires further investigation.


  The siting of electricity sub-stations near to rivers needs to be examined. One of the problems in Sheffield was caused by the flooding of the Neepsend power station and others were at significant risk. This could have led to sections of the city being without power for several days if floods had been even marginally worse.


    (a)  Many people in low income households appear not to have had insurance. It was obviously right to try and provide assistance to them but, where assistance is offered, should it only help those who did not have insurance? In the longer term does it not then discourage people from taking out insurance? On the other hand, should state funds be used to help people who have their losses covered by insurance?

    (b)  Most companies that I came across had insurance but many were not insured to replace older equipment damaged in the floods beyond repair with new equipment, which was the only replacement available. Also a great number of firms were not covered for loss of business and many of them were closed down for several weeks, during which time they received no income, and there could possibly be a knock on effect in that loss of customers could become permanent. The whole issue of insurance for loss of business is one which I think needs investigating and hopefully given some publicity.

  I hope this is helpful to the Committee's enquiry.

 Clive Betts MP

Sheffield Attercliffe

October 2007

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