GOVERNMENT has backed calls from an ICE-led commission for a compulsory flood defence levy on developers which build on flood plains.
The Department of the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) report Flood and coastal defence review, published last week, said developers should pay a 'connection charge' if they want to build on floodplains in the future.
This echoes the recommendation of the ICE commission report Learning to live with rivers. Past president George Fleming, who led the commission, said that although construction firms may not like the idea of paying, they must face up to taking greater responsibility for flooding.
The DEFRA report recommends a levy of 1% of the cost of a development.
'A scale of charges based on the value of the development should be relatively simple to implement. On the basis of an average 1% charge, income generated in 2000/01 would have been in the order of £160M, ' says the report.
The charge would go towards non site specific flood mitigation procedures including flood forecasting, emergency planning and clean-up operations. These are currently paid for by central government.
The scheme is intended to work with current planning guidance PPG25 that encourages construction firms to use sustainable drainage systems and incorporate flood-friendly design in buildings if developers want to build on floodplains.
But Fleming said that a connection charge will not stop flooding resulting from surface water run-off from new developments. This is because drains for new developments still feed into the existing, overwhelmed urban drainage systems.