Examination of witnesses (Questions 160
WEDNESDAY 22 NOVEMBER 2000
160. Mr Raynsford, you are going to have to
go away and you are going to have to give us a short note which
explains in not simplistic terms but simple terms what it is you
have decided to do about this.
(Mr Raynsford) I am very happy to do that, Chairman.
161. What effect do you think PPG 25 will have?
(Mr Raynsford) I think it will have a very significant
effect. It is already having an effect because it is there in
draft and authorities are already giving more attention to the
issue as a result of it. Clearly the recent floods have acted
as the wake-up call, as John Prescott has said, and authorities
are obviously eager to get the new PPG 25, which is why I am keen
we issue it as soon as is reasonably possible.
162. How many houses will not be built as a
result of it?
(Mr Raynsford) I cannot say.
163. You do not have any assessment of the impact
you think it will have?
(Mr Raynsford) I cannot because there are so many
variables. It will almost certainly result in some development
not happening that otherwise would have but equally it is likely
to lead to development being moved because of the sequential approach
from one site to another. In that case there will still be development
but it will be in a different location.
164. Do you not think that PPG 25 is still going
to be too vague? We have certainly had criticism from the Housebuilders'
Federation and from others that it is still going to be too vague.
(Mr Raynsford) I do not believe it will be. I think
the response to the consultation so far has shown that most of
the respondents believed that it was in its initial form, and
I have indicated we are going to tighten it up and toughen it
up, seen as helpful and clear by a very high proportion of respondents.
165. When you were answering earlier questions
about sustainable drainage you mentioned the Building Regulations
as part of it.
(Mr Raynsford) Yes.
(Mr Raynsford) We are currently completing the review
of Part H of the Building Regulations which deal with sustainable
drainage. We will subsequently be looking at Part A which deals
with issues of general stability. Another issue which we are beginning
to look at is the question of electrical matters which are outside
the Building Regulations at the moment but there is some question
as to whether or not they should be brought within the Building
Regulations. There is work on all three of those but the most
advanced is on sustainable drainage which we hope to be able to
issue certainly next year. We have to go through a series of stages
with Building Regulations, they have to be considered by the Building
Regulations Advisory Committee before they have to be issued.
We are at an advanced stage on Part H and we are already undertaking
the stability issues in Part A.
167. You cannot be any more precise than next
(Mr Raynsford) Not at this stage.
168. If you are actually pressing to make sure
that there is sustainable drainage so far as the built environment
is concerned, is it not logical to do something more so far as
MAFF is concerned to make sure that water does not run off much
quicker off farmland?
(Mr Raynsford) I agree this is one of the areas where
there needs to be close co-operation and discussion between departments
because the sustainable drainage issue does apply equally to development
and to agricultural uses.
169. What about the Environmental Impact Assessment
Directive? This has been in gestation for 15 years, is that not
(Mr Raynsford) We have actually implemented the Environmental
Impact Assessment Directive in relation to the issues that are
part of our responsibility.
170. That is just the point I am trying to make
to you, that it is illogical to be worried about water running
off car parks if you are not equally worried about water running
off farmland, given that we have just heard from the Environment
Agency that they are equal contributors to the current floods.
(Mr Raynsford) All I can say is that on the area which
is within our remit, which is land drainage, we have already implemented
the EIA Directive. Our colleagues at MAFF are aware of concerns
about the length of time that has taken over the matter which
is in their remit.
Mr Bennett: Thank you.
171. It is not very good, Minister, is it? While
I cannot profess to be altogether astonished at the behaviour
of MAFF, which has taken from August to find a date to actually
speak to me, you cannot on the one hand say to us "yes, we
are in close consultation. Yes, we are working with the Environment
Agency. Yes, we are toughening up this Directive. Yes, we are
doing out bit of it except, unfortunately, the other half of the
equation is totally missing".
(Mr Raynsford) All I can say is you know the process
of Government very well and I am here before you and I am able
to speak for my Department and we have implemented the EIA Directive
that is within our remit.
172. You are suggesting that we ought to talk
to other people as well, are you not?
(Mr Raynsford) That obviously would be your decision.
173. Would you be wanting to promote extra capacity
(Mr Raynsford) Capacity in what sense?
174. Capacity to contain floods, not defences.
I am talking mainly about fluvial flooding, which we have experienced
recently. Speaking for your Department, because obviously you
cannot for the others, would you be wanting to engage in that
as something that needs serious consideration to increase capacity
where it has been lost?
(Mr Raynsford) Yes.
175. Does that mean bringing into play non-functional
flood plains? What is a non-functional flood plain?
(Mr Raynsford) The functional flood plains are those
which serve to cope with excess water at times of very serious
176. Which still exist.
(Mr Raynsford) Which certainly exist and which need
to be there to perform that function. The other type of flood
plain I was describing is those flood plains that it is important
to protect against the risk of flooding where you certainly do
not want Central London to become a functional flood plain in
the event of a serious problem.
177. Minister, you have been very patient. It
is very nice to hear you talk about a subject you know, and long
may that continue. Thank you very much, doubtless we shall have
(Mr Raynsford) Doubtless we will, thank you.