Government responds to flood defence letter
14 April, 2021

The Government has responded to the Oxfordshire Growth Board’s letter calling for long-term flood defence investment.

Councillor Emily Smith, Chair of the Growth Board, wrote to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), last month offering the Board’s support for key conclusions made in the recent Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee report on flooding.

In the letter, Cllr Smith called for a national standard for flood resilience.

She also highlighted the need for action to ensure that water services utility companies, in Oxfordshire’s case Thames Water, can be held to greater account at a local level, especially with their regular failure to clear up sewage.

While this is unfortunately a year-round issue in Oxfordshire, it is of particularly concern during periods of flooding.

In her response, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at DEFRA Rebecca Pow explained funding for flood risk management was part of the overall local government settlement.

She added 2020-21 saw the biggest year-on-year increase in the overall settlement for over 10 years, an average 4.4% real terms increase.

The Minister set out the Government’s commitment to review local government funding for statutory flood and coastal erosion risk management functions, including the way in which it is allocated, to ensure it is fair and matches the needs and resources of local areas, recognising that some places face different risks.

She also explained the work of the Storm Overflows Taskforce, made up of Defra, the EA, Ofwat, the Consumer Council for Water, Blueprint for Water and Water UK, which in January agreed to set a long-term goal to eliminate harm from storm overflows.

The Taskforce is considering a range of factors as part of this work, including drainage issues such as sustainable drainage systems, their role in reducing/slowing water entering the sewerage system, and section 106 (right to connect to public sewers) of the Water Industry Act 1991. The Taskforce will be reporting to Government in summer this year.

You can read the full letter here.

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