HC Deb 15 October 2002 vol 390 cc565-6W
Norman Baker

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will ensure that the consultation process which follows the publication of the Ouse draft flood strategy is one which allows all sections of the community to comment. [73950]

Mr. Morley

I am advised by the Environment Agency that the Ouse Strategy has undergone a consultation process during its production, with meetings occurring with Lewes Flood Action, Residents Associations and many other interest groups. A working group was established, with representations from the communities involved, including businesses, elected members, parish councillors, flood action groups and landowners.

The purpose was to obtain advice and comments as the strategy developed, and public meetings were held in Lewes and Uckfield to facilitate this. Smaller meetings were also held with a number of other parish and residents' groups through the valley to allow for comment from other sections of the community. In addition, letters received were passed to our consultants for consideration when developing the strategy.

The Ouse strategy now includes the Environment Agency's preferred options which are believed to represent the most economical, technical and environmentally sound proposals for the catchment. It is these options that will be forwarded to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) for consideration for grant aid.

Public meetings are being arranged by the Environment Agency in Lewes and Uckfield in August to explain the strategy, with further meetings to follow at parish level. There is still an opportunity to influence the strategy during the detailed design stage.

Subject to approval, the strategy will be reviewed on a five yearly basis to take account of climate change and other variables.

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