Archive for December, 2013

Mopping Up – again

We have spoken before about the risk of flooding (see for instance our newsletter for August 2013) but as reports of development in flood plains, particularly in southern parts of England, again hit the headlines as water levels rise, one has to ask who is responsbile for the misery caused?

Developers cannot be expected to shoulder the blame alone.  Whilst they must be aware that their developments fall within known flood plains (an inspection of the Flood Map produced by the Environment Agency is easily accessed), the fact that they obtain planning permission from the local planning authority (‘lpa’) must be an indication to them that the inevitable risk is worth incurring.  Of course, it is not the developer that suffers but their purchasers – although they too must or should realise the danger before them.  If purchasers stopped buying in areas at risk, developers would not be tempted to seek a quick profit.

And what about the lpa – although under pressure to release land for development, particularly housing, it too must be aware of the chance that local flood plains will do what they do naturally – flood as river levels rise.  Planning Policy Statement (‘PPS’) 25 entitled Development and Flood Risk is far from new and states to be “about positive planning at all levels to deliver appropriate sustainable development in the right places, taking full account of flood risk”.  Whilst PPS25 makes it  clear that “Planning has a key role to play in avoiding and reducing the risk from floods” it is a role that many lpas appear to be ignoring.

Then, there is of course the Environment Agency itself.  Its website boasts that lpas “have to consult us on development proposals at risk from flooding before they make a decision”.  One has to ask what advice is being given or whether appropriate advice is simply ignored.  The Agency is there to provide technical advice to lpas and developers on how best to avoid, manage and reduce the adverse impacts of flooding.  So, why are we again, this Christmas, reading of the misery suffered by thousands facing flooded homes?