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Flood Control

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN HL12308, tabled on 19 January 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with relevant water management bodies, including (1) water companies and, (2) the Association of Drainage Authorities, about (a) increasing the maintenance of water courses, (b) achieving integrated catchment management, and (c) increasing private sector investment in flood defences.

Answered on

2 February 2021

Ministers and officials meet regularly with water companies, the Association of Drainage Authorities and other stakeholders to discuss these and other matters that will help secure our long term resilience to flooding and costal erosion.

In July 2020 the Government published its long-term Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Policy Statement which sets out the Government's ambition to create a nation more resilient to future flood and coastal erosion risk. The Policy Statement sets out five key policies and over 40 actions, to deliver an integrated approach to managing water and develop a diverse range of sustainable funding and finance opportunities.

Between 2015 and 2020 we committed over £1 billion on the maintenance of flood defence assets. This is a real term increase in spending compared to the £812 million spent in the previous five years. Our Policy statement includes our commitment to ensure that there is a long-term approach to maintain our network of flood defences across the country, through a combination of investment and action by risk management authorities, government, riparian owners and wider beneficiaries. This, and all the actions set out in the Government's Policy Statement will continue to be delivered in partnership with all our stakeholders.

The Government's Strategic Policy Statement already requires Ofwat to ensure water companies improve planning and investment to prevent wastewater flooding and to improve infrastructure resilience against extreme flood events. Following the 2019 Price Review the water sector has committed to invest more than £1 billion to protect the environment, homes, businesses and drinking water from flooding.

Water companies are developing Drainage and Sewerage Management Plans that will inform the next price review. These plans provide a framework for organisations to work together, through which joint solutions and approaches can be developed to improve drainage and environmental water quality. Water companies are participating in and, in some cases, fund the Catchment Based Approach which is one of the Government's key mechanisms to deliver integrated catchment management.

Ahead of the next price review in 2024, the Government has committed to consider if additional outcome measures are required through future Price Reviews and the Environment Agency and Ofwat will develop a joint approach for how water companies should address flood and coastal resilience.

Between 2015-2021 the government's partnership investment programme has generated over £500 million from private and public sources to complement the government's grant in aid budget. This investment has helped deliver flood defence projects across England helping the Government meet its commitment of better protecting 300,000 homes from flooding.

The Government's Policy Statement sets out how we will explore opportunities to further incentivise contributions from others including from businesses and the private sector. On 1 February we published a call for evidence on strengthening the assessment of local factors in the government's flood and coastal defence programme, including how we can incentivise increased private sector contributions to flood and coastal defence projects.