Published in June, the Pitt review said local authorities should be given more control over local flood risk management plans, with the Environment Agency playing a strategic role (NCE 26 June).
Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) chairman Alistair Moseley said that the government’s failure to act on this recommendation was creating confusion. "Central government needs to provide clear guidance and financial help to local authorities on flood risk management," he told a conference last week.
"Local authorities need to lead on flood risk management and the Agency – which has not so far provided adequate guidance – should provide technical expertise and benchmarks of best practice," he said.
Sheffield University professor of urban water Richard Ashley accused the government of favouring inquiries over policy decisions. "It’s easier to conduct an inquiry than it is to implement policy," agreed Moseley.
"We want to see the government take some real action that will enable local authorities to take more decisive action on flooding," he added. Failure to implement Pitt was also a central concern on the issue of sustainable drainage systems (SUDS).
Hydro International director Alex Stephenson told delegates that Pitt’s recommendation that "the government should resolve the issue of which organisations should be responsible for the ownership and maintenance of sustainable drainage (SUDS)," should be acted on urgently. Under the current regime in England and Wales, responsibility for SUDS is a grey area. CIWEM would like to see responsibility for SUDS coming under the water companies’ remit.
Environment Agency head of flood risk management David Rooke told NCE it was too soon to expect action on the Pitt recommendations. "The government welcomed the release of the report in June," said Rooke, “but we are still waiting for the government to give its official response." Rooke acknowledged the need for the Agency to provide technical expertise and strategic leadership.