Local authorities will be given new powers and responsibilities over surface water flooding in their areas which will include the preparation of surface water development plans, the Government has announced.

Environment minister Phil Woolas confirmed this move in a keynote speech at a flooding conference held in London. He made it clear that new legislation would be needed which will emerge next year (2009) in the promised draft Floods and Water Bill.

He said such plans would "help local authorities to make sure that the necessary maintenance is being carried out by the right owner, in the right place, so that any potential flood area is better protected....we are exploring how we can properly enforce this".