Flooding: Government 'Too Slow To Act'

The Government has been too slow bringing in measures that will protect homes and businesses from the "shattering" impact of flooding, say MPs.

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.

This should be achieved 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 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.

Rules for abstracting water from the environment should be reformed and people encouraged to use water meters, the MPs said.

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.