UK drafts bill to deliver improved management of surface water flooding

Details of how the proposed Floods and Water Bill would ensure the country is better prepared to deal with surface water flooding in the future, will today be outlined by Environment Minister Phil Woolas. He will announce a new strategic overview role for the Environment Agency for all forms of flood risk management throughout the country. Local authorities will take responsibility for surface water flooding in their own communities, supported by the Agency...

LONDON, June 16, 2008 -- Details of how the proposed Floods and Water Bill would ensure the country is better prepared to deal with surface water flooding in the future, will today be outlined by Environment Minister Phil Woolas.

He will announce a new strategic overview role for the Environment Agency for all forms of flood risk management throughout the country. Local authorities will take responsibility for surface water flooding in their own communities, supported by the Agency.

These changes will help the relevant authorities to respond more effectively to future flooding events, and provide better protection for people and property.

Speaking at a water conference in London later today, Phil Woolas will say: "In the year since last summer's devastating floods, and in response to Sir Michael Pitt's interim report, we have been taking action to ensure the country is better prepared to deal with flooding. This new role for the Environment Agency will ensure a more co-ordinated response to future floods.

"Local authorities have a vital role to play, and under the Agency's overview they will be supported to take the lead on the ground. We are prepared if necessary to back this up by providing authorities with the powers to ensure that organisations and landowners responsible fulfil their obligations; for example by maintaining drains."

In his interim report Sir Michael Pitt called for clearer roles and responsibilities to be set out for organisations responsible for surface water management, as well as improved co-ordination and co-operation.

Mr Woolas is also expected to announce how the Floods and Water Bill will replace existing outdated legislation and tighten up reservoir safety. Under new rules, more of the country's reservoirs will be subject to stringent inspections.

Defra is aiming to consult on the draft Bill in Spring 2009.

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