Cabinet to consider major new plan to improve resilience to flooding

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Councillors are to consider a new strategy which aims to better manage the risk of floods causing damage to property, and threatening people's lives and livelihoods.

The joint Lancashire Local Flood Risk Management Strategy 2021 – 2027 outlines how Lancashire County Council, Blackpool Council and Blackburn with Darwen Council plan to work together and with other flood risk management authorities over the coming years to manage local flood risks.

The three councils are the designated Lead Local Flood Authorities for the wider Lancashire area, with a duty to ensure all organisations which have a responsibility for managing water coordinate their activities, and work with local communities, to reduce the risk of flooding.

Through working together, Lancashire, Blackpool, and Blackburn with Darwen will deliver efficiency by sharing resources and achieve greater effectiveness because the sources of flooding require water to be managed across local authority boundaries.

A new report to Lancashire County Council's cabinet outlines that the new strategy is needed to ensure the councils' approach is consistent with the new national flood and coastal erosion risk management strategy introduced in September 2020 by the Environment Agency.

The strategy begins by setting out the risks and challenges to preventing flooding in Lancashire, and the responsibilities of flood risk management authorities within the county, including organisations such as the Environment Agency and utility companies. It then outlines the objectives for managing flood risk, the measures proposed to achieve them, how they are expected to be paid for, and how and when they are expected to be achieved.

The new strategy also outlines work to ensure new development is sustainable and resilient, good communications are maintained between partners within Lancashire's 'flood family', and that partners make the most of opportunities to secure investment to better protect businesses and communities from flooding.

The report to the cabinet explains that progress in delivering the actions outlined in the strategy will be monitored by a group chaired by councillors from the lead local flood authorities, with a report being published every year to keep people informed.

It also details feedback received from partner organisations and members of the public during a five-week public consultation on the draft strategy held earlier this year.

County Councillor Shaun Turner, cabinet member for environment and climate change, said: "Sadly many people in Lancashire know only too well how awful it is for their home, or the business which they rely on for their livelihood, to be inundated by flood waters.

"One of the major lessons learned from the serious flooding which has affected the UK over recent years is how important it is for all the organisations which have a responsibility for managing water to make prevention of flooding a priority, and work together to coordinate their activities.

"Flooding can happen for a number of reasons, whether due to drains, sewers or sea defences becoming overwhelmed, rivers bursting, pumps shutting down, or groundwater levels rising over a prolonged period of poor weather, and it is a growing problem, with severe weather events becoming more common and unpredictable as our climate changes.

"Lancashire's diverse geography means we have been affected by flooding from all these sources, and when flooding occurs it is often due to a combination of factors.

"Understanding why flooding has occurred, and how the impact in future could be mitigated, is therefore often complex, difficult, and time-consuming, however the only way to improve our resilience is by everyone working together towards a shared plan.

"We have made a great deal of progress as a county since our first flood risk management strategy was published, and those communities which have been worst affected in the recent past are now among the most informed and best prepared whenever severe weather is forecast.

"This strategy provides an excellent framework for the actions we plan to take over the coming years, and importantly also contains a business plan setting out the practical steps we intend to take, with a timeframe by which to monitor progress."

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