§ Mr. Laurence Robertson
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the role of the Environment Agency in the planning process with regard to the building of houses on flood plains. 
§ Mr. Morley
[holding answer 22 January 2004]: The Environment Agency has the lead role in providing advice on flood issues both at a strategic level and in relation to planning applications as stated in Planning Policy Guidance on "Development and Flood Risk" (PPG25). The Agency works with local planning authorities to help ensure inappropriate development does not take place in the flood plain.
§ Margaret Beckett
No such 'standard' has been issued by the Government. In project appraisal guidance the Department sets out a range of indicative standards depending on land use. For intensively developed urban areas, the indicative target range is from 1 in 50 to 1 in 200 for river floodplains and 1 in 100 to 1 in 300 for areas at risk of coastal flooding. It should be emphasised that many houses situated behind defences with a nominal standard of, say, 1 in 50, will individually have a risk of flooding that is significantly less than this.
The project appraisal guidance will be subject to review and public consultation later this year but there are no current plans to change the range of indicative standards.