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Statutory Law

Apart from common law, the Parliament has enacted laws to address flooding problems.

1. NEW LAWS ON FLOOD AND COASTAL EROSION RISK MANAGEMENT

Flood and Water Management Act 2010

  • The Act introduces the idea of flood and coastal erosion risk management. This covers a broader range of activities than land drainage and coastal defence. It would include not only works to prevent flooding, but also works to reduce the impact of flooding, for example.
  • It gives the Environment Agency strategic overview for national flood and coastal erosion risk management in England. Welsh Ministers are responsible for this in Wales. Unitary and county councils take the lead for local flood risk management.
  • It introduces a requirement for new developments to have sustainable drainage systems (or 'SuDS'). This new SuDS approvals system is expected to come into force for larger developments in England in 2014.

2. THE LAW ON LAND DRAINAGE

Land Drainage Act 1991
The Act provides for the bodies that deal with local (land) drainage. They include:

  • The Environment Agency (EA) (previously the National Rivers Authority)
  • Local authorities
  • Internal drainage boards
  • Navigation authorities
  • It also sets out rights and duties of people who own land by a watercourse (riparian owners).

Water Resources Act (WRA) 1991 as amended
The Act sets out the duties of the Environment Agency (EA) on flood defence and other areas relating to water management and quality:

  • The EA has discretionary powers to improve and maintain river conditions. The EA is not obliged to construct or maintain such works. In practice, it will only proceed with schemes that are not only beneficial but cost-effective.
  • The Act also grants the EA powers to issue flood warnings and regulate what can be discharged into rivers, estuaries, coastal waters, lakes and groundwaters.
  • The EA also has the power to issue bylaws. Copies that apply to your locality are available from your local EA office.

Environment Act 1995

  • This Act requires the Environment Agency to supervise all matters relating to flood and coastal erosion risk management in England and Wales.

3. THE LAW ON COASTAL DEFENCE

Coast Protection Act 1949

  • The Act allows coastal authorities to carry out measures to control and prevent coastal erosion. To this end, they maintain and repair existing coastal defences.
  • Coastal defence works cover - (i) capital schemes, such as new or replacement sea defences, and (ii) routine repairs to keep the coastal defences in good order.
  • Government funding for coastal defences is mainly provided by the discretionary grant aid system, currently managed by the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). On April 1, 2008, the EA became responsible for grant payments for future coastal defences.

Legislation

Coast Protection Act 1949

Land Drainage Act 1991

Water Resources Act 1991

Environment Act 1995

Flood and Water Management Act 2010

* See fuller list of legislation in law search.

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