Upper Catchment Management

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:30 pm on 26th April 2017.

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Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Labour/Co-operative, York Central 4:30 pm, 26th April 2017

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered upper catchment management.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Paisley, for what will be the last Westminster Hall debate of this Parliament. Upland catchment management is an important subject to focus on. Many Members in the Chamber today will have experienced flooding in their constituency, as I did in York Central on Boxing day 2015. We know the devastation that came from that. In York, 453 residential homes were flooded and 174 businesses experienced flooding. There are families who are still not back in their homes and businesses that are yet to reopen, such as the Blue Bicycle restaurant on Fossgate, which is still waiting for repairs to begin. Although we celebrate places such as Jorvik, which reopened over the Easter recess with a new exhibition—I encourage all Members to visit and to send their constituents there, as well as to the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, which has also been restored—there is still so much to do. The insurance systems still are not working, and resilience is still an aspiration, not a reality. We need far tighter flood governance to support people when planning, during flooding and afterwards too.

To make a real difference, we have to look upstream at how we prevent flooding downstream. I am sure all Members present would agree that to address flooding in our country properly, the resource and focus need to switch upstream. With climate change, we know that flooding is a reality in this country, so we have to get on top of the agenda. I have been saddened that the Government have not prioritised climate change in the past couple of years in the way we would want. I know for sure that Labour will ensure we tackle the causes of flooding, as well as flooding itself. That phrase may resonate with people as a commitment, and they will see the actions that we will put behind that.

I know that instigating methods of prevention is always better than having to mop up after a disaster. That was why I was so disappointed by the Government’s “National Flood Resilience Review”. It talked about spending money on defences and moveable defences—it is only a little bit of money, mind, that is being put into that—without getting resource where it is needed upstream. The review also said that would not happen until the next comprehensive spending review. I am pleased to say that after the election, Labour’s comprehensive spending review will address this very issue to ensure we address flooding at source.