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Pitt Review progress criticised by environmental groups

The government is “failing” on its pledge to take forward the findings of the Pitt Review to improve flood defences and prevent unnecessary development on flood plains, an environmental report said today.

The Nature Check report by environmental umbrella body Wildlife and Countryside Link (see box, below) examined government’s progress on implementing recommendations made in the Pitt Review that followed the 2007 UK floods. The brevity of the new National Planning Policy Framework could lead to inconsistent approaches to preventing inappropriate development on floodplains, the report said. It also said that repeated delays to the publication of national standards for sustainable drainage systems (Suds) mean that the parts of the Flood and Water Management Act relating to Suds have had “no practical effect” yet.

The report also found that “moderate progress” made towards reforming the water industry to ensure more efficient use of water, protect poorer households, better competition and improved conservation was “at risk of being undermined by poor policies and/or delays”. The report berated government for its minimal progress on publishing the Water White Paper and making legislative changes to tackle pollution from surface run-off and over-abstraction from rivers.

“While government has made some welcome noises on the issues to be tackled by the Water White Paper, the current lack of progress is more telling,” the report said. “Against the backdrop of a strongly deregulatory agenda it is unclear to what extent government is willing to use its powers to direct [water regulator] Ofwat and the water industry, and how much progress we will really see over the lifetime of this parliament.”

Wildlife and Countryside Link

Wildlife and Countryside Link is an umbrella body whose 36 members include the British Ecological Society, Campaign to Protect Rural England, and the Rivers Trust.

Campaign for Better Transport, the Town and Country Planning Association and Waterwise are “link partners” of the umbrella body.

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