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Concern for flood risk advice

Posted on | March 30, 2014 | Comments Off on Concern for flood risk advice

Enzygo Experts have voiced fears that cuts to the Environment Agency’s budget could mean that its role as an adviser to councils on the implications of development proposals on flood risk will be less effective.

The Environment Agency, which coordinated the response in England to the recent flooding, is a statutory consultee for specified categories of development where flood risk is an issue. In 2012/13 it provided detailed flood risk advice on nearly 9,000 developments.

But experts have raised concern that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ cuts to the agency’s budget could affect its ability to provide advice to councils on the flood risk implications of proposed developments. According to a report in Planning’s sister title, the ENDS Report, the agency has to cut 15 per cent of its staff by October, bringing staff numbers down from 11,400 to 9,700. The Environment Agency’s chief executive Paul Leinster told the journal that the most significant cuts would hit the body’s environment and business division, which leads on its town and country planning work.

Matt Travis, a director at environmental consultancy Enzygo, said that he believed that the quality of the agency’s work was unlikely to suffer as a result of the cuts, but added that it may take longer to respond to requests from local authorities for flood risk advice.

“It is inevitably going to affect the agency’s ability to deliver consultation responses within the 28 working-day timescale,” he said. “Councils may make decisions without the Environment Agency’s consultation response but, if they do, the Environment Agency can call a decision in with the secretary of state”.

“I think we’ll just see more planning applications being deferred and not determined which may in turn mean more developers taking applications to appeal for non-determination”.

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