The Localism Act requires lead local flood authorities (LLFAs) [Devon County Council and/ or EDDC?) to make arrangements for overview and scrutiny committees to review and scrutinise risk management authorities [e.g. Environment Agency] The Act says: ‘Risk management authorities are now under a duty to comply with a request made by an overview and scrutiny committee for information or a response to a report in relation to its flood or coastal erosion risk management functions’.
SOS asked Cllr Stuart Hughes, DCC Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation, about this. He has been on hand during recent floods at Sidford and at Woolbrook. His reply (09/01/13) is copied below, with permission.
I’ve now had the opportunity to take a good look at this and would suggest that in the true spirit of the Flood and Water Management Act it is not essential that one needs to rely on a request from the overview and scrutiny committee for information to be provided. Defra have recently decided not to implement Section 15 of the Act which gives the EA and LLFA powers to request information from other Risk Management Authorities as it is acknowledged that all are prepared to share information when required. A Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA) is required to support the Local Plan and is a requirement of the Planning Authority which in this case will be East Devon District Council (EDDC). A request should therefore be made to EDDC to see whether the specific site has been considered in the assessment, although not every potential development site will be included in this strategic document. A site specific flood risk assessment (FRA) should be prepared by the developer to support the actual planning application. This FRA will be reviewed by the Planning Authority when considering the planning decision and will consult technical experts from the Risk Management Authorities including EDDC, the Environment Agency and South West Water on the viability of the proposals. Devon County Council as the Lead Local Flood Authority are to set up a Sustainable Drainage (SuDS) Approval Body (SAB) to review such applications, but this is yet to be implemented by the government and unlikely to come into force until April 2014. In the meantime the Flood Risk Management team are encouraging the planning authorities to ensure suitable surface water management and SuDS are provided for all new development.
It is incorrect to suggest that Councillors will be held accountable for the decisions that are made. There is a defined process for considering planning applications and all representations will be taken into account when making the final decision. It is the Risk Management Authorities that provide the information upon request therefore an individual will not be held to account. There is then, of course, the appeal process which takes the decision away from the local members etc.!
Hope this helps
Stuart Hughes CC
SOS reminder: Deadline for public response to Local Plan is NEXT MONDAY 14 JAN at MIDDAY. See previous post on this website.