Legislation boosts flood protection

The Flood and Water Management Bill has secured Royal Assent.

The act, which implements key recommendations of Sir Michael Pitt’s review of the summer 2007 floods, was passed by both the Houses of Commons and Lords yesterday under so called 'wash up' procedures to speed up legislation before Monday’s dissolution of Parliament.

The act’s provisions include:

• Introducing new statutory responsibilities for managing flood risk. There will be national strategies and guidance on managing flood risk in England and Wales. Unitary and county councils will bring together the relevant bodies, which will have a duty to cooperate, to develop local strategies for managing local flood risk.

• The Environment Agency, local authorities and internal drainage boards will be able to ensure that private assets which help manage the risks of floods cannot be altered without consent eg putting a gate in a wall that is helping protect an area could increase the risk of flooding.

• Drainage systems for all new developments will need to be in line with new National Standards to help manage and reduce the flow of surface water into the sewerage system.

• All sewers will be built to agreed standards in future so that they are adopted and maintained by the relevant sewerage company.

Two thirds of the flooding in 2007, which affected 55,000 UK residents, was caused by surface water flooding resulting from heavy rainfall which overwhelmed sewers and drains.