Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Ministers duck heads under water in face of flooding threats

Last June, the Government’s primary advisor on energy and climate issues, the Committee on Climate Change, published a report, Reducing emissions and preparing for climate change: 2015 Progress Report to Parliament (
n its response in November, Progress on meeting carbon budgets and preparing for climate change , the Government  insisted :“With respect to development in areas at risk of flooding, planning policy directs new development away from highest risk areas. This does not rule out all new development in areas at high risk of flooding, which include parts of central London and cities such as Hull, if there are no suitable and reasonably available sites in areas with a lower probability of flooding and the development is made safe, appropriately flood resilient and resistant, without increasing flood risk elsewhere, and any residual risk can be safely managed. :
And added:
“We believe that a strategy to address future residual risk would not be appropriate at this time. Significant activity in this area is already underway or planned.”
In some other specific responses, the government reply, signed jointly by Environment Secretary Liz Truss and Energy Secretary Amber Rudd,  was less than co-operative withits own statutory climate change adviosor, as highlighted below:
Recommendation 18: Assess capability of the national emergency planning system and identify further needs

Recommendation:The Cabinet Office should, before the ASC’s next report in 2017, undertake a quantitative assessment of the capability of the national emergency planning system to manage extreme weather events; and in light of the findings, publish a summary outlining where further capability may be needed. Owner: Cabinet Office Timescale: Early 2017
4.18 Releasing information about current response capability would divulge areas of vulnerability which could be exploited to cause harm to the UK: capabilities required
to respond to extreme weather are also needed to respond to other risks, including malicious attacks. It is for this reason that we do not intend to publish the findings.
Recommendation 20: Collect and publish data and review capacity for local flood recovery
Recommendation Local authorities should routinely collect and publish data on flood recovery, including the length of time occupants have to wait until they are able to return to their homes after a flood event. DCLG should review the capacity of local authorities to support people physically and mentally in the aftermath of a flood, and publish its findings before the ASC’s next report in 2017.Owner: DCLG Timescale: Early 2017

4.21 We agree that local authorities should collect data on aspects of flood recovery, but not necessarily that they should publish it routinely. The publishing of such data is a matter for local decision on a case by case basis and there maybe sensitivities and data protection implications.
The reponse added
“The effects of flooding on health are extensive and significant, ranging from mortality and injuries resulting from trauma to infectious diseases and mental health impacts. While some of these outcomes are relatively easy to track, quantification of the human impact of floods remains challenging. For this reason, Public Health England has established a cohort study following the winter 2013/14 flooding in England to investigate how communities were affected and the effects on people’s health and daily living. The results from the study will help us plan for the impact on people of future severe weather events, so we can help communities recover more quickly.
All of which demonstrates to me a worrying lack of commitment by ministers to addressing the consequences of flooding in the UK.

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