Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by John Maples MP (FL MP 20)

  I would like this letter to be a formal submission to your committee in its inquiry into the recent flooding.

  My constituency of Stratford-on-Avon was badly affected by the July floods, as it was in 1998. This year some 2,000 properties (including mobile homes and caravans) were flooded. The cost of repair work runs into tens of millions. Some properties will become uninsurable against this risk. I have been in discussions with both the District and County Councils and hope soon to have a meeting with the Environment Agency.

  There seems to be no clear overall responsibility for flood preventions and defence. Many agencies seem to be involved including the Environment Agency, Severn Trent, the County Council, the District Council and possibly individual landowners. We all think that the Environment Agency should be given the lead agency role in co-ordinating flood prevention and defence. Some agency needs to have this role and the EA seems the most appropriate. Much is already their direct responsibility and they seem best placed to perform this role.

  At my request, the District Council is compiling a comprehensive catalogue of property damage in the July floods and the causes of the flooding in each case. Large areas of some towns were flooded, damaging large numbers of properties, but at the same time there were isolated local floods affecting very small numbers of properties. We think that we now need an analysis of what flood defence and prevention measures could be taken, what they would cost and how much property damage they would save in relation to each flooding incident. We would then need a flooding frequency estimate to enable a cost benefit analysis to be done in each case.

  The local councils cannot afford to undertake this work, though they could commission it if funded by the government to do so. I suggest that the government commission and finance such studies of all areas flooded in July. Without this, it will be impossible to assess what can be done to prevent future damage. I imagine that quite a bit of this work will already have been done.

  In Stratford, we have had two "one in thirty year" floods in nine years. The frequency estimates clearly will need to be revised if accurate cost benefit analyses are to be done. Such analysis would then enable us to assess what is practical and cost-effective and then to priorities projects.

  I also feel that the issue of development on flood plains needs to be addressed. With flooding becoming more and more frequent it is essential that we do not build houses that are going to flood.

  I have raised these points with the Secretary of State and attach a copy of my letter. I look forward to seeing your committee's recommendations.

John Maples MP


October 2007

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