Politicians working 'very closely' to make sure new housing sustainable and not at risk from flooding, minister says

Politicians  are working “very closely” across departments to make sure that new housing is “sustainable” and not at risk from flooding, according to the minister responsible for flooding.

Handout photo issued by Lucy Sheridan of flooding in Snaith, East Yorkshire, where homes have been evacuated after the River Aire burst its banks (February 2020)

Rebecca Pow said that housebuilding has to consider its “footprint [...] on the environment” and said the Government takes the issue of building on floodplains very seriously.

Yorkshire suffers regularly from flooding, with many areas being battered repeatedly by the weather events such as Storm Ciara in February 2020 and the devastating Boxing Day floods in 2015.

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On a visit to Yorkshire to visit flood defence and prevention schemes and discuss the issue with local stakeholders, Rebecca Pow was asked what the Government is doing to ensure that their housebuilding promises do not leave families and communities at a greater risk of deluge.

She told The Yorkshire Post: “We’re working very closely in Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) with the communities and local government department so that future housing is sustainable.

“We have to consider this whole issue of the footprint of housing on the environment and the water side of this is very important.”

Ms Pow also claimed that the Environment Bill will include a measure whereby more attention has to be paid to the views of bodies such as the Environment Agency, when they are consulted on house building and other projects.

“For example”, Ms Pow said: “In some cases planning authorities are still ignoring the advice of the Environment Agency and continuing to build on floodplains and it’s very important that we take this seriously.”

Earlier this summer promised to invest £146m in dozens of schemes designed to protect homes and businesses in Yorkshire and the Humber from flooding as part of the the £5.2bn Flood and Coastal Erosion Investment Plan.

On Wednesday, Ms Pow was visiting Yorkshire to host a round-table meeting to examine the issue of flooding along the River Aire and River Calder.

Speaking after the meeting she said: “We are making progress - a new flood alleviation scheme at Mytholmroyd will better protect 400 homes and businesses, while we’re harnessing the power of nature in the upper catchments to slow the flow of water and reduce risk downstream.

“However, I know that there is more to do and we’re continuing to invest in places like Leeds and Hebden Bridge. We will boost the resilience of communities across Yorkshire as we face more extreme weather brought about by climate change."