Environment Agency should lose its floods remit

14th April 2016

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Adaptation ,
  • Public sector ,
  • Environment agencies ,
  • Environment Agency


Jane Kirkwood

A new body should be set up to deal with flooding and water quality, the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) has said.

The government’s review of national flood resilience should consider removing the Environment Agency’s responsibility for flooding, combined sewer overflows and water quality, transferring them to a newly created Water Agency, the EIC argues in a new report.

The commission said that, although there are clear theoretical benefits to including flood management within the agency’s general remit, in practice the resources and expertise required for regulation of issues such as waste management are very different to protecting homes in a flood.

There is a case for changing the structure considering the need to devote greater focus to developing future flood policy, it said. The report argues that the UK’s approach to flood risk needs a wider rethink. Defra’s push to allow the private sector to use its datasets should be extended to flooding so that risk and damage could be identified and anticipated, it said.

‘Flood policy needs a reboot, otherwise we will continue to see so-called 1 in a 100 year floods causing untold damage and misery every few years,’ EIC’s executive director of Matthew Farrow said.

The EIC’s recommendations include extending the FloodRe protection scheme to small businesses and making the Repair and Renew Grant permanent to encourage homeowners in at-risk areas to invest in protection.

It also recommends that the government re-evaluate the measures it uses to justify the commissioning of flood defences. The cost-benefit ratio for approving flood defences was raised from 1:5 to 1:8, meaning that they must now be predicted to save £8 for every £1 spent instead of £5.

Governments have tended to correlate flood defence priorities with asset value at risk, which means high-value areas are protected better than less economically and demographically significant areas, even though they may find it harder to recover from flood damage. Alternative approaches to prioritisation should be considered, the commission said.

Meanwhile, the government has shut down a service that helped businesses cope with flooding and climate change. The Climate Ready service was closed at the end of March.


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

UK off track for net zero by 2030, CCC warns

Only a third of the emission reductions required for the UK to achieve net zero by 2030 are covered by credible plans, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) has warned today.

18th July 2024

Read more

Almost three-fifths of UK environmental professionals feel there is a green skills gap across the country’s workforce, or that there will be, a new survey has uncovered.

4th July 2024

Read more

Climate hazards such as flooding, droughts and extreme heat are threatening eight in 10 of the world’s cities, new research from CDP has uncovered.

3rd July 2024

Read more

Ahead of the UK general election next month, IEMA has analysed the Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat, and Green Party manifestos in relation to the sustainability agenda.

19th June 2024

Read more

Nine in 10 UK adults do not fully trust brands to accurately portray their climate commitments or follow the science all the time, a new survey has uncovered.

19th June 2024

Read more

Just one in 20 workers aged 27 and under have the skills needed to help drive the net-zero transition, compared with one in eight of the workforce as a whole, new LinkedIn data suggests.

18th June 2024

Read more

With a Taskforce on Inequality and Social-related Financial Disclosures in the pipeline, Beth Knight talks to Chris Seekings about increased recognition of social sustainability

6th June 2024

Read more

Disinformation about the impossibility of averting the climate crisis is part of an alarming turn in denialist tactics, writes David Burrows

6th June 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close