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LPAs Should Heed the Lessons from the ASC Report into Preparedness for Flooding, Says POS

Date: 12/7/2012

The Adaptation Sub-Committee's (ASC1) 3rd Report2 assessing progress to manage flood-risk and water shortages was launched on 11th July. 

The Report's findings show that development in the floodplain grew at a faster rate than elsewhere in England over the past ten years, although the rate has declined in coastal areas. Most floodplain development has been in areas that are already protected by flood defences, but around a fifth has been in locations that currently face a significant chance of flooding, which is likely to increase further with climate change. The local authorities studied generally assume that the benefits of continuing to develop in the floodplain outweigh the costs rather than looking at alternative locations first.

John Silvester, a Director of POS and project manager of the POSE Responding to Climate Change Supported Learning Group, represented the LGA and POS on the steering group for the Arups' study into local authority approach to development planning and flood risk. John said "our involvement has meant we were able to ensure the study observed the practical realities of the challenges facing LPAs in balancing the many competing demands on them to allocate new development in the most sustainable locations and to achieve their strategic spatial objectives."

The ASC Report revealed that whilst the local authorities studied had developed a good understanding of current flood risks and had started to explore the implications of climate change there was mixed evidence that local authorities were using their improved understanding of flood risk to inform development plans:

  • Less than a quarter of the development plans studied (10 out of the 42) had a clear audit trail setting out how they had applied the sequential test (as required by national planning policy in undertaking Strategic Flood Risk Assessments)
  • For some authorities (6 out of 42), the sequential test is unlikely to have resulted in the identification of alternative locations
  • The majority of flood risk management policies in the plans reviewed focussed on making floodplain development safe once the strategic decision to allocate land in the floodplain has been made.

Silvester said "LPAs need to heed these lessons and be more transparent in demonstrating their understanding of flood risk in future local plans."


The Adaptation Sub-Committee (ASC) of the Committee on Climate Change was established under the Climate Change Act 2008 to provide advice to Government. The ASC provides annual assessments of UK preparedness for dealing with the impacts of a changing climate.One of the headline findings of the ASC's 2nd report (2011) was that climate risks were not fully incorporated into some major strategic decisions including land-use planning.

2 Read the 3rd ASC Report

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