Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Oxfordshire County Council (FL 126)

LETTER FROM JOANNA SIMONS, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, OXFORDSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL TO RT HON ANDREW SMITH MP, 17 SEPTEMBER 2007

  I refer to your letter dated 24 August concerning the forthcoming inquiry on flooding and apologise for the delay in replying.

  We have been involved in discussions with the Districts and the Environment Agency about lessons that we can learn about our immediate response and also thinking about longer-term issues.

Drawing on our discussions can I suggest the following are considered by the enquiry:

    —  the ability of the Environment Agency to fund major flood defence schemes in the light of increased risks following climate change.

    —  the balance between major flood defence schemes and smaller local schemes, recognising the need for value for money in all cases.

    —  a review of the adequacy of monitoring systems available to the Environment Agency.

    —  a review of the usefulness and accuracy of early warnings provided by the Environment Agency (not sure about this, they are reviewing this themselves)

    —  assistance available to householders to protect themselves from flooding.

    —  implications of significant events such as the July flooding for long-term damage to Transport Infrastructure.

    —  review of Bellwin scheme particularly in scope and also associated financial thresholds

    —  whether responsibilities for local drainage (ditches/gullies,etc) are too unclear and dispersed, and whether there is need for legislative change and/or improved local co-ordination arrangements

    —  Assistance packages which are all run separately by different departments with individual thresholds

    —  Whether consideration should be given to amending the building regulations to build in new standards suitable for climate change adaptation (in particular in relation to the less obvious areas such as drainage as well as the obvious ones relating to property).

    —  Knock on impact on the economy in relation to agriculture and also (a particularly local issue) the residential care market.

  I also attach for your information a copy of a report going to our Cabinet tomorrow which gives a bit of background on the overall impact in Oxfordshire.[1]

  This was up to date when printed but I know that the numbers affected in the Vale have gone up since then as they have gathered more information from outlying villages.

  The Oxfordshire Leaders Group also discussed this last week and are particularly concerned about action that is needed to help to make sure that the city and other districts do not experience such difficulties again and they will be writing to relevant Secretaries of State shortly. I will also write to you again about this once the letters have been drafted.

  I accept these points are quite varied, but as you can imagine events such as the July flooding do have wide-ranging implications.

  We would be very happy to provide more detailed comments if this is helpful.

Joanna Simons

Chief Executive, Oxfordshire County Council

September 2007





1   Not printed. Back


 
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