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Private and public roles in flood defence

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image of Non-State Actors and International Law
For more content, see International Community Law Review.

This paper examines the role of private individuals and public bodies in relation to the provision of flood and coastal defence in England and Wales. After introductory discussion of the concept and character of 'flooding', relevant private rights and duties are considered and the limitations of the civil law outlined. This is followed by a summary of the national allocation of public responsibilities for flood defence and an account of the reliance upon statutory powers to take action, and the curious absence of any substantive duties to do so. The traditional understanding of responsibilities for flood defence is contrasted with recent indications that, in certain circumstances, flood protection may constitute a human right. The concluding discussion is generally critical of the suggestion that any right to flood defence can be formulated in the unqualified way that seems to be envisaged. The important issues needing to be addressed, in both private and public law, concern the formulation and extent of responsibilities, which properly reflect the reasonableness of actions, and take full account of economic, social and environmental impacts of flood defence provision.


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