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
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