Cornwall Council Seeks Funding Reassurances from Government

Cornwall Council is to write to the Defra Minister seeking assurances that the Government will continue to provide funding to enable the authority to carry out its responsibilities for flood management.

The Flood and Water Management Act introduced by the Government in 2010 gave local councils a number of new statutory duties related to flood management. As a result the Council became the Lead Local Flood Authority for Cornwall.

Earlier this year the Government then added a number of additional duties, including the responsibility for becoming the Land Drainage Authority for Cornwall, and the duty to identify flood features.  Now the authority has been given a further duty to investigate flooding incidents caused by surface water run off, groundwater, ordinary water courses, main rivers and the sea within Cornwall.

“Flooding is a significant risk in Cornwall, as we know from the flooding incidents in Boscastle in 2004 and in  Mevagissey, Looe and Lostwithiel in 2010” said Lance Kennedy, the Councils portfolio holder for community safety, public protection and waste management.  “We estimate that there are around 28,000 properties in Cornwall which are at risk from surface flooding, a further 12,000 at risk from river flooding and at least 5,000 from tidal flooding.”

“This new duty means the responsibility for investigating flooding incidents transfers from the Environment Agency to the Council.  This will mean we will now investigate flooding incidents where there has been a significant risk to or loss of human life or where surface water or water from an ordinary water course have resulted in at least three residential or commercial properties being flooded internally.  We will also investigate incidents where records show that 1 or 2 properties have flooded previously or where a road is impassable for a significant period of time.”

Adding that while the Government had agreed to give the Council a New Burdens grant of £316,000 a year to help fund its flood management duties, Mr Kennedy said that this was only guaranteed until the end of the 2014/2015 financial year.

Over the past twelve months the Council has successfully delivered two significant flood alleviation projects in Cornwall.  The first was the Truro Tidal Defence project, including the replacement of Lighterage Quay, which was part funded by the Cornwall Harbours Board in partnership with the Environment Agency.  The second scheme was the Property Level Protection scheme for 150 properties in the Mevagissey, St Blazey and Lostwithiel areas, the largest project of its type in the country.

“I share the concerns which have been expressed by members of the Environment and Economy Overview and Scrutiny Committee over the impact of these additional duties on the environment budget which is already under severe pressure” said Mr Kennedy.

“I will now be writing to the Minster seeking reassurance regarding the future funding of this vital function

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