Public Accounts Committee public hearing

20th January 2021

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP questioned the Chief Executive of the Environment Agency (EA), Sir James Bevan, on the latest EA work on chalk and limestone streams. Sir Geoffrey is Deputy Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, who held a public session this Thursday on managing flood risks. Witnesses from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as well as the Environment Agency answered questions from the committee on the government’s management of protecting homes from flood risk.

Sir James Bevan outlined the work the EA had been doing, including the formation of the national chalk stream restoration group.  Sir Geoffrey also raised the provisions in Philip Dunne’s private Member’s Bill that could usefully be adopted in the Environment Bill, addressing sewage discharges from combined sewage overflows into rivers. The Public Accounts Committee will publish its report in the coming weeks with recommendations for Government.

Commenting on the session Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP said:

“Public Accounts Committee hearings are always a great way to flag important concerns directly with Government departments.  I have been able to raise a number of submissions made by constituents on flooding and pollution directly with the Environment Agency and Thames Water.

“After visiting some of the flood sites in the last few weeks I agree that a wider investigation into the underlying problems is necessary and I have written to Thames Water, the Environment Agency, as well as Cotswold District Council, requesting a full review.  I will also be holding my annual general flooding meeting on Friday 5 March, via zoom”

The link below is for the public session held on the 14 January:

The full oral transcript can be accessed at:

For more information on the inquiry into 'Managing Flood Risks' -




An opportunity for residents of Bledington, South Cerney, Cerney Wick, Siddington, Cirencester, Fairford, Lechlade and Moreton-in-Marsh to hear and ask questions of the continued flood resilience work taking place and to speak with officials from the County and District Councils, Parish Council, Thames Water and the Environment Agency about ongoing issues.  


 Friday 5 March 2021


Please email if you wish to participate in the call and also include any questions or concerns you would like to have discussed.  I will then forward the Zoom invitation.

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Planning White Papers

I have submitted my responses to the two planning consultations: “Changes to the current planning system’ and “Planning for the future’.

These planning changes are one of the most significant events to affect the Cotswolds since WWII. I think that both papers contain positive proposals, in our case commitments to protect the AONB. The proposal to abolition Section 106 and the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) should speed up the planning process and it is important that the money is retained locally so that the infrastructure can be built at the same time as the development. 

Too often we see a development being built long before the supporting infrastructure, which I know can cause significant issues for existing residents. The proposals to simplify and speed up local plan-making and retaining neighbourhood plans where possible are welcome, in that design codes can be specified so it should be possible to protect our unique Cotswolds vernacular.   

I spoke in the planning backbench business debate on the 8 October and called for a change to the algorithm the Government uses in its planning White Paper which fails to take account of local variations and concentrates all new house building in the south-east and central south of England. 

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