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Watered down


The article on planning policy and flooding (NCE 8 February) links the government's strategy for better flood risk management to a philosophy of reducing the need for flood defences. It states that this is illustrated by recent cuts by the Department for the Environment Food & Rural Affairs in flood defence budgets. This oversimplifies the issues.

The new Planning Policy Statement on Development and Flood Risk (PPS25) strengthens the management and reduction of flood risk within the statutory planning process. The need for flood defences will be reduced in as much as more development will be prevented in areas at risk of flooding.

But by far the greater need for flood defences relates to communities and infrastructure that are already located within areas at risk of flooding. The government's Foresight Future Flooding report confirmed that engineered defences will remain the principal means of managing this risk throughout the 21st century.

Existing ood defences in England and Wales have replacement costs in excess of £20bn. The ongoing process of maintaining, adapting, realigning and improving the UK's defences for future levels of service is a major task in infrastructure management.

From this viewpoint, the government's strategy will not be achieved without an increase in flood defence budgets in the longer term.

Dr Mervyn Bramley OBE (F), Member, Wessex Regional Flood Defence Committee, 9 Beaconsfield Road, Clifton, Bristol BS8 2TS

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