1. ITV Report

Ministers 'too slow' over flooding

Library pictures of flooding in the centre of Mytholmroyd, West Yorkshire. Photo: John Giles/PA Wire

The Government has been too slow in bringing in measures that will protect homes and businesses from the "shattering" impact of flooding, a Yorkshire MP has warned today.

The Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee said the draft Water Bill would help increase competition in the provision of water supplies for customers.

But ministers are not showing enough urgency in implementing measures that will improve the country's resilience to flooding and drought, the MPs said.

A report from the committee criticised the failure to create sustainable drainage systems to prevent flooding from surface water, through measures such as stopping people laying impermeable surfaces in back gardens and businesses.

And ministers are taking too long over moves to improve the safety of reservoirs at risk of flooding, the report on the draft Water Bill said.

Concerns were also raised that local authorities and the Environment Agency are not paying enough attention to dredging and maintaining water courses, which can have a major impact on flood risk.

The MPs also called on ministers to provide more information on the solutions being considered to ensure homeowners at high risk of flooding continue to have access to affordable insurance after a deal on the issue expires later this year.

After a year that contained both drought and repeated flooding, the committee said more progress was needed on water efficiency, by reforming the rules for abstracting water from the environment and encouraging more use of water meters.

They also warned that the lack of detail in the Water Bill risked uncertainty for investors which could push up costs and lead to higher water bills for customers.

Bill-payers should not have to bear the costs of those who do not pay up, and they should be legally protected from bad debt in the water industry, the MPs added.

The Government has been too slow to implement changes that would protect homes and businesses from the shattering effects of flooding.

– Anne McIntosh, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee

"New laws will increase competition in the retail water market, and while we welcome those changes, Government must get on with implementing changes that would reduce flooding - many of which were recommended nearly five years ago."

The MP for Thirsk and Malton added: "Widespread flooding has once again wrought devastation and heartache in communities across the country, including in my constituency.

"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."