In October 2019, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs commissioned an independent review of the arrangements for determining responsibility for surface water and drainage assets. The review was carried out by David Jenkins, chair of the Wessex Regional Flood & Coastal Committee.
While the review will now be considered in full by ministers, 12 of the have been accepted immediately to develop a more coordinated and efficient approach across England.
Surface water flooding generally occurs after heavy thunderstorms or rainfall when the volume of rainwater is such that it does not drain away or soak into the ground. More than three million properties in England are at risk of surface water flooding. Due to the localised nature of such heavy rain, it can also be difficult to predict.
The Jenkins review1 looked at responsibility for surface water and drainage assets, and has provided recommendations on how to make these arrangements more straightforward and effective.
Environment minister Rebecca Pow said: “As our climate changes and we experience more frequent short bouts of heavy rainfall in future, it’s important that government, local authorities, other public bodies, private businesses and individuals can all work together effectively to tackle the threat of surface water flooding.
“The government is already taking action through our surface water management action plan and aspects of our long-term flood policy statement, but David Jenkins’ review provides important recommendations on how we can make further improvements into the future.”
David Jenkins, who led the review, said: “This review has highlighted a number of ways in which the risks from surface water flooding may be more effectively managed, so that homes and businesses may be better prepared and protected.
“I am pleased to learn that the government is taking immediate action to address some of my recommendations, including making responsibilities clearer and ensuring a more joined up approach across the country, and that it is giving further consideration to the rest.”
The review called for greater clarity as to who is responsible for constructing and maintaining drainage systems since this is crucial to managing surface water flood risk. The review makes recommendations to improve clarity over roles and responsibilities, ensure flood investigation reports take into account the views of residents and businesses and that lessons learned are shared widely. It also recommends that better advice is made available to homes and businesses at risk of surface water flooding to help them improve their own protection and resilience.
Following on from the review the government said that it would provide new guidance to local authorities and review statutory powers and responsibilities to ensure proper inspection and maintenance of privately owned flood assets.
The government has invested £2m since April 2019 to help local flood authorities update their flood risk maps. It is also spending £1.2bn on a supercomputer to improve weather forecasting.