Draft Flood and Water Management Bill

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written statement – made at on 21 April 2009.

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Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

A draft Flood and Water Management Bill for England and Wales and a consultation paper will be laid before Parliament today. Copies of the draft Bill and associated documents will be available in the Vote Office and have been placed in the Library of the House. The draft Bill and the consultation paper set out the Government's proposals to improve flood risk management and ensure water supplies are more secure, and the consultation period will close on 24 July. I am inviting the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee to scrutinise this draft Bill in the coming weeks.

The aims of the draft Bill will be to:

reduce the likelihood and impact of flooding; improve our ability to manage the risk of flooding, by clarifying who is responsible for what; improve water quality; give water companies better powers to conserve water during drought; reduce red tape and other burdens on water and sewerage companies; improve the overall efficiency and management of the water industry; and reduce pollution and improve water quality.

The draft Bill will implement the key recommendations made in Sir Michael Pitt's independent review into the summer 2007 floods, as promised in the Government's response in December. It includes giving local authorities a clear leadership role in local flood risk management, encompassing all sources of flooding. It would also introduce a modern risk-based approach to reservoir safety to replace the current system where regulation depends on size rather than the risk posed to surrounding communities.

In addition to the provisions on flooding, the draft Bill includes measures to improve conservation of water in times of drought and the regulation of the water industry, and it will enable water companies to develop new ways of delivering very large infrastructure projects.

The draft Bill and associated consultation paper cover all the remaining legislation necessary to give full effect to the Government's policy statements "Making space for water" and "Future Water".

The documents will also be available on the DEFRA website at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/environ/fcd/floodsandwaterbill.htm