National Infrastructure Commission says not enough being done to tackle problem blighting thousands of properties

The government’s response to a National Infrastructure Commission study pushing for preventive measures for flooding in properties has been scrutinised by the commission.

It said the response, which was published yesterday, lacks enough new pledges to tackle the problem and that the government is not speeding up work needed to deal with the risk.

Provisional Met Office figures show the recent winter season has been the eighth wettest on record for the UK overall. It added 445.8mm of rainfall fell within the season – classed as December, January and February – 29% more than the long-term average.


Source: Shutterstock

Flooding in Worcester in January sees swans take over public spaces. The recent winter saw 29% more rain than the long-term average

The wettest areas have been across central and eastern England and Scotland, receiving more than one and a half times the average rainfall amount very widely.  

The NIC study, which was published in November 2022, made a case for long-term goals to stop flooding, in an effort to provide a clear strategy and bring about “joint local plans” as well as decisions for investment. The commission’s proposal was supported by the National Audit Office and the Climate Change Committee.

The government said local agencies should work more closely together but stopped short of handing over capital funds to local authorities, so that local plans can go ahead.

The NIC wanted to see sustainable drainage systems in new developments and to prevent them from being linked to the existing sewer system so that it doesn’t get overwhelmed.

But NIC commissioner Professor Jim Hall said: “We recommended a package of measures to get a grip on the problem, which would mean that 250,000 [properties] cease to be at high risk of surface water flooding while boosting protection levels for thousands more.”

“Sadly, government’s plan of action does not meet the scale of the challenge, and lacks the urgency required to meet the threat. It’s been over a year since government promised to implement legislation to end the automatic connection of new developments to the drainage system. It must get on with this as soon as possible.”

The government has said in its policy paper, that it aims to improve its understanding of the risk through “[m]apping, modelling and better forecasting” and understanding “where it is greatest to target cost-beneficial mitigation and resilience actions”.