The House of Commons EFRA Committee has recently reported on flooding, with a 60 page conclusion and 650 pages of evidence that make eye-opening reading.
I do not believe that this report has been properly covered. In particular, criticism of the Environment Agency (lack of engineers etc) and the recommendations for change have been overlooked. With both Harman and Young leaving the EA, the Pitt Report imminent, and Chris Smith about to take over, I believe there are big changes due soon.
Extract from report - House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Fifth Report of Session 2007–08
(Link to report http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmselect/cmenvfru/49/49.pdf)
80. Our inquiry has showed that maintenance of watercourses is one of the major issues of
public concern. Too often, local people—who are the ones closest to the problem, and with
most at risk—are frozen out of the decision-making process about watercourse
maintenance. Given the enormous level of interest, we believe it is appropriate that local
people have to be involved, and consulted, in the formulation of decisions about
watercourse and river maintenance. The Agency, and local authorities, must open up
dialogue with members of the public, through appropriate local fora, to ensure that
they are part of this process. This would at least ensure that local people have opportunity
to discuss their concerns with Agency, or other, staff, and that public expectations are
81. Once decisions have been made, the Agency should make clear, via its
other means, the maintenance programme for all its watercourses—even if this, in
some cases, is minimal—including the risk assessment which the Agency has made in
deciding its approach to maintenance of a particular watercourse. The future schedule
of maintenance should be announced whenever possible.
82. The Government should ask the Environment Agency and Natural England
on how to resolve any conflict between effective drainage for flood defence purposes
and the preservation of watercourses as important wildlife habitats, and publish the
83. The Government should re-examine the money available for the
watercourses and produce a clear analysis, by the end of 2008, of the balance between
maintenance and capital spend, bearing in mind the National Audit Office’s
conclusions, the scepticism of the public that not enough maintenance is being done,
and the views of the Environment Agency.
From Ewan Larcombe, 67 Lawn Close, Datchet SL3 9LA
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