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

Memorandum submitted by the Rt Hon David Curry MP (FL MP 12)

  I am grateful to the Chairman for his letter of 24 July concerning the Committee's future inquiry into flooding.

  Two issues have been raised by events in my constituency.

  The first is the disconnection between formulating flood relief plans to the point at which everything is ready for implementation and the implementation itself. In Ripon the flood defence scheme for the rivers Skell and Laver was approved four years ago. But the Environment Agency's assessment of risk means that this scheme does not go ahead because its score is not high enough. If the score is high enough to justify the preparation of a complete scheme how can the score then not be high enough to justify its implementation? It is very difficult to explain to the people whose homes have now been flooded twice within seven years, and have been on the verge of flooding on a number of other occasions, that their case is important enough to plan for defences but not important enough to put them in place.

  The second issue flows from the first one. The Environment Agency has a scheme of prioritising risk. It is about to introduce a more sophisticated programme. I think the Committee could very helpfully look hard at the prioritisation process and the factors which are included into it. There will always be "once in a lifetime" events but there are plenty of cases around the country of communities exposed to persistent risk and of installations like electricity substations in vulnerable areas which justify a hardheaded analysis of the whole process of prioritisation.

  I hope this is helpful.

Rt Hon David Curry MP

Skipton and Ripon

August 2007

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