On 29 May 2014 I attended the “Flooding and Planning: Dealing with the Deluge!" And learnt from David Lock speaking to the title “Planners and Flooding: Not Guilty As Charged". David explained that flooding was an inevitable consequence of continuing to build along the traditional settlement patterns in lowland Britain; on rivers (especially crossing points) and safe harbours.
Making extensive references to the NPPF it was noted that Section 10 is headed “Meeting the challenge of climate change, flooding and coastal change". For those who have any remaining doubt about the Government's position on climate change and its relationship with flooding it is instructive to see that this is regarded as a single “challenge" in national planning policy.
With the assistance of Veronica James from the Environment Agency the conference proceeded to concentrate on adaptation to flooding and climate change. My only contribution was to suggest that our planning system might hold some responsibility for the catastrophic flooding in Serbia and Bosnia (another participant added Hurricane Sandy). The damage has been described as greater than that wrought by the recent conflict in the Balkans and the damage would be longer lasting than that in our flood hit regions. The flooding is worse than anything experienced in the last 120 years, if ever before. Of course, Britain is only responsible for a very small proportion of global emissions of greenhouse gases. However, we should always bear in mind that greenhouse gases respect no boundaries and we share the collective responsibility for the changing climate and its impact wherever this occurs.
Veronica's slides reminded us that the Environment Agency regards climate change as one of its responsibilities despite the doubts that might be harboured about the current Secretary of State.