Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Flooding, carbon emissions and section 10 of the NPPF

Just in case there are people out there who might want to contribute to the select committee investigation into flood prevention these are some of the points that could be made:-

 Expectations should not be too high in respect of the ability of any agency to predict the future of weather, climate or flooding.  Given the outcome of the COP21 in Paris and the national pledges it would be sensible to estimate climate, weather and flooding on a 3 degree rise in global temperatures.   Although circumstances might change, currently there is no evidence for any other basis for such calculations.

Planning has been carried out on assumptions that are proving to be completely wrong. Extreme (called ‘unprecedented’) and devastating weather events are occurring at about 1 degree of global warming.  Measures should now be considered which allow for events at significantly warmer temperatures.  Such measures should not be rejected because some optimism bias that makes it conceivable that the worst will not happen.

The planning system has been extremely bad at preventing building in known or suspected flood plains.  This is not because of the policies that have been accepted at national and local levels but mainly due to the Government’s desire to see housebuilding rates maintained and increased.

Due to section 10 of the National Planning Policy Framework ‘Meeting the challenge of 
climate change, flooding and coastal change(emphasis added), all those involved in facing
the issues of flooding and climate change should  be following the Government’s lead that 
sees this as a single and inseparable challenge.

There is a obvious problem that the Chancellor has decided that much if not most of the
 Government policy in section 10 is not being followed by the Business, Environment, 
Transport or Communities (inc planning) Ministries. 

The most important issue for this review of policy is to take into account the excellent existing policy guidance at section 10 of the NPPF and then to consider why this is not being followed and what can be done to reactivate the policies in respect of carbon reductions in building, power generation and transport.  Carbon and flooding are also closely related in the agriculture sector that is a good reason to bring agricultural practices under planning control.   This is a very complex matter but its importance would justify a detailed inquiry by this or some other Government/Parliamentary body.


The problem is not with existing policies but in their implementation.

Unless the Government gets serious about reducing carbon emissions any flood prevention 
measures are likely to prove futile.


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