MPs have taken the government to task for being “too slow” to implement measures to reduce flooding.
The Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee said it was “disappointed” that the draft Water Bill “does not provide provisions to improve resilience, either in relation to flood defence or tackling water stress”.
Its comments came in its report on the draft bill, published last week.
“The government has been too slow to implement changes that would protect homes and businesses from the shattering effects of flooding,” said committee chair Anne McIntosh.
Most of the bill relates to increasing competition in the water sector, but McIntosh said: “Government must get on with implementing changes that would reduce flooding - many of which were recommended nearly five years ago.”
The committee expressed disappointment that the draft legislation failed to include proposals to combat flooding and tackle water stress that were published in the government’s 2011 Water for Life White Paper.
It also said successive governments had failed to implement the recommendations of the Pitt Review into the 2007 floods and the Flood & Water Management Act 2010 relating to sustainable drainage systems, reservoirs and flood insurance.
“Solutions that would reduce the impact of flooding are out there and would make a difference but successive governments have not had the mettle to put them into practice,” said McIntosh, who is MP for the flood-hit Yorkshire constituency of Thirsk, Malton & Filey. The committee also criticised the bill for its lack of detail, complaining that important detail will be left to water regulator Ofwat or introduced through secondary legislation, which gets less parliamentary scrutiny.
ICE water expert Michael Norton said the committee was right to raise concerns about the lack of detail in the draft bill.
“This leaves a cloud of uncertainty over many areas of the water sector such as investment and sustainability and does little to tackle the UK’s critical water security issues,” he said.
The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management said it “shared the frustrations of the committee” over delays in implementing the provisions of the Flood and Water Management Act.