Post-legislative scrutiny: Flood and Water Management Act 2010 Contents

1Our inquiry

1.The Flood and Water Management Act (the Act) provides the statutory underpinning for flood and water management approaches in England.1 It is a broad Act which redefined and clarified authorities’ responsibilities for managing flood and coastal erosion risk management, as well as setting out measures on miscellaneous matters from sustainable drainage to the affordability of water customers’ bills. We have scrutinised the effectiveness of many of these measures in previous inquiries. In particular, our recent Future flood prevention report published in November 2016 looked in-depth at the effectiveness of flood risk management approaches set out in the Act.

2.In January, the Committee received Defra’s Post-legislative Memorandum on the Flood and Water Management Act 2010.2 Government departments are required to publish a Memorandum including a preliminary assessment of how an Act has worked in practice, normally three to five years after Royal Assent, and submit this to the relevant Departmental Select Committee for potential scrutiny.

3.The Post-legislative Memorandum (the Memorandum) asserts that the Act has provided better flood risk management and delivered improvements for water customers. This view is at odds with the findings of our Future flood prevention report published in November 2016 which strongly criticised some of the current approaches rooted in the Act. We found current flood risk management structures to be “fragmented, inefficient and ineffective”.3 Our concerns have been endorsed by a number of stakeholders, including the Committee on Climate Change Adaptation Sub-Committee which considered that “there is no evidence that implementation of the Act has led to a reduction in flood risk”.4 We repeat our calls for implementation of our recommendations tackling the broad strategic and governance concerns raised in our Future flood prevention report.

4.This inquiry did not revisit the broad flood risk management issues in that report. Rather we took the opportunity presented by publication of the Memorandum to scrutinise the effectiveness of Government approaches with regard only to certain provisions in the Act which have either not been commenced or have not been fully commenced. These are measures on:

2 Defra, Post-legislative Memorandum on the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, Cm 9402, February 2017

3 Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, Second Report of Session 2016–17, Future flood prevention, HC 115

4 Committee on Climate Change (FWA 40) para 6

25 April 2017