Author of flood review calls for an end to paving over gardens

Mapping and warning tools could also help address surface water problems

By Mark Hotton The author of the independent review into the summer floods has suggested homeowners should no longer have the right to concrete or pave over their front gardens. Sir Michael Pitt was asked last August to identify what could be learnt from the emergencies and to make recommendations to help cope more effectively with flooding. Managing surface water is one area that he believes can be improved. About two-thirds of the floods were caused by surface water and he is calling for a new emphasis on guarding against it. Pitt said it should no longer be a right of householders and firms to lay impermeable surfaces and says planning permission should not be granted for those wanting to turn front gardens into car parks. He added that the Environment Agency was best placed to develop a national approach to managing surface-water flood risk, including the development of surface water mapping and warning tools. “The country was fortunate that the impact of the emergencies was not much more severe,” he said. An RHS booklet, Front Gardens, offers advice on cutting flooding risk. It provides practical solutions on how to have a bio-diverse front garden and a car park in the same space by using permeable paving, which lets rain water drain into the soil rather than run into the road.

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