Agenda item


Purpose of the report:  Policy Development and Review


This report contains the initial findings and recommendations of the Flooding Task Group, which was commissioned by the Environment & Transport Select Committee to investigate the impacts of the recent flood events that affected Surrey in December 2013 and early 2014.



Witnesses: None


Key Points Raised During the Discussion:


1.    The Chairman introduced the interim report by informing the Committee of how the interview process for the Task Group had been structured around residents and Local Members to allow for the widest spectrum of opinions and personal accounts on the recent flooding.

2.    The Chairman indicated to Members of the Committee that the Task Group had yet to have a formal meeting with representatives of Thames Water. Despite this, the Committee were informed that Thames Water had agreed to a meeting the following week. It was also confirmed to the Committee that Ofwat had declined to meet with the Task Group. The Chairman advised Members of the Committee that he was meeting with David Hodge to discuss this issue.

3.    The Repair and Renew Grant was discussed and concern raised around the fact that businesses were not eligible to apply, as this increased the risk of consequential loss of business.


4.    There was a consensus among Members of the Committee that a number of drainage systems struggled to cope with the level of water experienced during the flooding and that this was a cause for concern. Members of the Committee expressed the view - in line with the Task Group’s recommendations - that the utility companies should be encouraged to keep up to date plans of their networks and protocols.

5.    The Committee strongly supported the view of the Task Group in that firmer decisions needed to be made by the relevant planning authorities in relation to planning permission on flood plains. It was noted that Local Planning Committee decisions to refuse applications were often overturned on appeal as a result of Environment Agency advice as to the predicted likelihood of flooding taking place in certain areas.

6.    It was felt that issues around road closures during the recent flooding were a significant problem, with residents frequently ignoring road closure notices and confusion around which roads were closed and by whom. It was suggested that in future communication of this matter be improved, and clarification sought as to who had the authority to close roads during flood events.

7.    It was suggested by a Member of the Committee that representatives from Surrey Police be invited to meet with the Task Group to decide if there are any specific insights or recommendations that they may be able to offer the Committee in relation to strengthening laws related to the policing of flooding events.

8.    The Chairman relayed to the Committee that, during a recent Task Group meeting, the Environment Agency representatives expressed a desire to see more specific Member recommendations regarding communication during future flooding events.




a)     That a review of the communications arrangements between the County Council, Districts and Boroughs and relevant partner organisations be carried out, with a view to avoiding duplication of effort and to improve communication as perceived by residents. This should include keeping County and District & Borough Councillors informed.


b)     That the County Council determines how the Lower Thames Relief Scheme can be implemented as soon as possible.


c)     That, in order to reduce the quantity of water entering the fluvial system, priority be given to the clearance of all ditches and soakaways in the County, and, where appropriate, the reinstatement or creation of ponds.


d)     That utility companies be encouraged to keep up to date plans of their networks and other protocols.


e)     That the County Council explores alternatives to the use of sandbags in flood defences.


Actions/further information to be provided: None.


Committee next steps:


The Select Committee will consider the final report of the Flooding Task Group later in the year.


Supporting documents: