The government has published new guidance aimed at ensuring local councils maximise planning rules to better manage flood risks in their area.

The five-step guide calls on planners to identify inadequate drainage and surface run-off or sewer problems and avoid risk by prioritising non-flood areas for development. They must also assess whether the need for development outweighs flood risk, including following Environment Agency Advice.

It is now compulsory to consult with the Environment Agency on planning applications in flood risk areas and where councils ignore their advice on major developments the government will intervene. Planning minister Caroline Flint said: “The Government has put tough planning rules in place for flood risk areas that we need councils to enforce.”

The government has already intervened in 24 cases following Environment Agency advice. Four were called in, a further four are under consideration and the rest were returned to councils following improvement to flood protection measures.

Commenting on the announcement, James Rowlands, RICS Public Policy Officer said: "Although local councils can do more to prevent inappropriate development on flood plains the government must also do everything in its powers to protect homes from flooding.

“Flood defences are not currently included on the list of nationally significant infrastructure in the Planning Bill and will not require a National Policy Statement. “This change is essential to introduce a national approach to protection from flooding rather than relying on the existing but outdated regional system."

The government has also released its summary of responses received to the ‘Development and Flood Risk: A Practice Guide Companion to PPS25 'Living Draft' - A Consultation Paper.’

The practice guide companion was published by the DCLG in February 2007 and was available for consultation until August 2007 to facilitate policy implementation through the provision of guidance, signposting and inclusion of relevant case studies.