Three Rivers District Council (TRDC) have hit out at Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) over its current inability to provide advice on flooding on new planning applications.
As the flood authority, the county council usually advises on all applications from both councils. However, since October, they have stated they are currently unable to do so due to ongoing staffing issues.
The council is legally required to provide the flooding advice under rules outlined in the Land and Water Management Act of 2010.
Leader of TRDC, councillor Sarah Nelmes said, “I had already raised this at a meeting with other council leaders across Herts and it’s a serious issue that could delay the issuing of planning permissions or indeed issuing permissions without getting the right advice.
“It’s already been 9 months since HCC stopped providing the legally required service and whilst we all have staffing issues, it’s not even saying when this will be restored, and we have major applications to consider.”
Cllr Eric Buckmaster, HCC’s executive member for the environment said: “The concerns they (the councillors) raise actually point to a sector-wide difficulty in recruiting suitably qualified people for the skilled task of responding to planning applications from district and borough councils.
“We are, of course, aware of TRDC’s concerns and have regularly updated them and other planning authorities on our multiple attempts to recruit staff.
“We have now reached a point where we have drawn a line under any further recruitment attempts for now and instead will commission consultants to provide advice to relevant, and priority, planning applications.
“This should be in place by mid to late August and we will continue to prioritise the cases we deal with.”