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The David Lidington column: Pulling together to prevent future floods

David Lidington chairing the meeting on flooding

David Lidington chairing the meeting on flooding

  • by Aylesbury MP David Lidington
 

The clocks have gone forward and at last the weather feels like spring.

But it’s only a few weeks since the news headlines were all about flooding.

For many of us locally, flooded roads and pavements were an inconvenience. For people living along the western edge of Aylesbury, it was much worse.

Families experienced the trauma of water flooding their homes. A few had to leave home temporarily.

Most people I spoke to praised the fire service and council staff working on the front line.

And the community spirit shown was fantastic.

Meteorologists tell us to expect an increased risk of flooding in future. National and international action to arrest climate change will take many years to have an impact.

So we need to improve our preparedness, learning the lessons from this winter.

Nationally, environment ministers are considering the lessons for flood prevention.

But of course the reality is that under any government the budget for flood defences will be finite.Part of the answer is for the Environment Agency (EA), water companies and local authorities to work together better.A couple of weeks ago, I convened a meeting for those organisations along with local councillors.

People weren’t now seeking to attribute blame but wanted to work out what could have been done better and how local flood prevention could be improved.

In the past, different organisations haven’t always been clear about their respective responsibilities or shared local maps and other information. I think there’s now recognition that we need more joined-up local working.

A new law has given county councils a lead responsibility for flood prevention. Bucks CC is now preparing a report on this winter’s floods.

AVDC and the EA are cooperating. Ideas like more frequent checks on the brooks for debris, special attention to culverts that act as pinch-points, and a small embankment on the residential side of the brook all need to be considered.

Improved local flood prevention is a key part of avoiding Aylesbury residents having to live through this winter’s experience again.

 

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