DROITWICH Spa's MP has stressed the importance of flood risks being considered in future planning decisions.
Mid Worcestershire MP, Sir Peter Luff, has responded to concerns from many of his constituents by asking the government to ensure that councils and planning inspectors take on board the Environment Agency’s judgments on flood risk when they are approving new housing developments.
In the Commons on Monday, February 10, the MP asked Eric Pickles, the communities and local government secretary: "When it comes to advice on flooding from the Environment Agency, is not the real problem that it has too often been ignored by local authorities and the planning inspectorate, leading to inappropriate development that makes flooding worse?”
Mr Pickles replied: “I know that my honourable friend has had some particular problems. I looked carefully at the figures for building where there was an acute risk of flooding, and I am delighted to tell him that the number of buildings in high-risk areas is at an all-time low. I am also pleased to say that where there have been objections from, say, the Environment Agency, they have been adhered to on 99.3 per cent of occasions.”
Afterwards, Sir Peter, said: "I find it difficult to believe the figures the Secretary of State gave in his answer. I suspect the phrase "high-risk" is the problem and excludes many deeply worrying developments.
“There are deep concerns locally about building proposals in the Webheath area in the Redditch and Bromsgrove area, which will impact residents downstream on the Bowbrook in Wychavon. Residents in Saleway are understandably worried that the construction of over three thousand houses will significantly increase the risk of flooding in their area.
“I am writing to the Secretary of State to highlight this particular case to him and to ensure that planning inspectors are fully taking on board the professional judgments of the Environment Agency on flood risk. We all know that the agency's views are too often ignored or downplayed. It's just not fair on existing residents to have their flood risk increased by new developments in the wrong place."