Remove Automatic Right to Connect, Climate Change MPs Warn

Flood risk to properties in the UK could be exacerbated by the construction of developments on floodplains without Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS), a committee of MPs has warned.

While the Environment Agency’s advice against building on floodplains is largely followed by planning authorities, the EA does not consider smaller developments —fewer than 10 homes—which can still in aggregate have a significant flood risk: About 12,000 new homes a year are being built without EA advice on flood risk, warns the report of the Environmental Audit Committee on Climate Change Adaptation.

The committee also called on the Government to require Sustainable Drainage Systems to be built on smaller developments.  From April, developments of 10 properties or more will be expected to incorporate SuDS before being granted planning permission, but smaller developments will be exempt.

The Government has said that it supports the deployment of Sustainable Drainage Systems as the default approach to development, but has stopped short of enforcing its use through the existing provisions of the Flood and Water Management Act, ” says the report’s conclusion.

It has also stopped short of removing developers’ automatic right to connect new homes to the public sewer system, which would provide an incentive for them to include SuDS. The Government must enforce the powers it already has under the Flood and  Water  Management  Act  to  require  SuDS in  developments,  particularly  on floodplains, and remove the developers’ right to connect homes to the public sewer.”

The chair of the committee Joan Walley MP said: “Continuing to build houses on floodplains at high risk of flooding is foolhardy as this is merely storing up risk and costs for the future. With flooding likely to increase the Government should enforce existing powers to require Sustainable Drainage Systems in all development.”

An inquiry held by the committee heard evidence from a wide range of expert witnesses including Paul Leinster, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency; Lord John Krebs, Chair, Adaptation Sub-Committee, Committee on Climate Change and Dan Rogerson MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Climate risk

The Committee warns that flooding poses the greatest climate change adaptation risk in the UK. However, Walley said the Government’s National Adaptation Programme (NAP) has not identified proactive adaptation policies and the UK is not tackling its priority climate risks. “With the effects of climate change likely to persist for centuries to come, the need to adapt is unavoidable,” said Walley.

“Flooding poses the biggest adaptation risk here in the UK, yet the Adaptation Programme gives you no sense of this.” She concluded, “To bring about real climate resilience, the Government needs to provide a more top-down strategic direction to identify the priority risks.” The committee is awaiting the Government’s response to the report.

Read the Report: Climate Change Adaptation

Photograph courtesy of Cole Easdon Consultants


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