Environment Agency outlines flood investment plans

Posted: Friday 19th February 2010

The Environment Agency has announced how over £745m of Defra, Welsh Assembly Government, Local Authority and European Union funding will be allocated to reduce the risk of flood and coastal erosion in England and Wales for the year to March 2011.

The investment includes funds to build new and maintain existing river and coastal defence schemes, develop flood forecasting technologies and heighten public awareness of flood risk.

Today’s investment forms part of the Environment Agency’s strategy to reduce the risk of flooding to more than 200,000 additional properties across England and Wales by 2015.

Some of the key flood and coastal erosion defence projects planned to benefit from funding in the 2010/11 financial year include:

The Environment Agency has welcomed increasing Government spending on flood and coastal defences, but has warned that increased funding must be found to reduce risk and protect against rising sea levels and the more intense rainstorms that will come with climate change. The Government’s environmental watchdog has estimated that investment in the building and maintenance of defences will need to increase to £1bn a year by 2035 to maintain current levels of protection.

Flood defence schemes provide benefits to communities including opportunities for economic development, jobs and tourism. The Environment Agency already seeks financial contributions from organisations such as developers and industries who directly benefit from flood defence schemes and will look to increasing contributions from other sources to complement public investment from Government.

Key schemes completed during 2009/2010 include the final stages of a £40m scheme to protect 3,300 properties in Carlisle. The project, after emergency Environment Agency repairs to shore up the incomplete sections, protected 800 properties from flooding during last November’s Cumbria floods. The Hull Tidal Barrier received £4m this financial year as part of a £8.3m maintenance programme to upgrade the structure.

Environment Agency Chairman Lord Chris Smith said: “We, together with our partners in local authorities and Internal Drainage Boards, will invest over £745m on protecting lives and property from flooding and coastal erosion in the year to March 2011.

“The 2007 floods cost homeowners, businesses, emergency services and others some £3.2bn. The high costs of flooding underline the importance of continued investment in reducing flood risk, particularly in face of the more frequent and heavy storms and rising sea levels that will come with climate change.

“It is essential that we continue to defend communities, businesses and the economy from the risk of flooding and coastal erosion. The Environment Agency has completed over 116 flood defence schemes in the past two years, providing increased protection to over 77,500 extra properties.

“Whilst continued investment is crucial, flooding cannot always be prevented so communities must also take responsibility for being prepared – for example by signing up to the Environment Agency’s free flood warning service.”

The investment plans come a day after the Environment Agency announced moves to automatically enrol 500,000 properties to its free flood warnings service, almost doubling the total number registered to almost one million.

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