2 Dec 2014

Will the government’s flood defence project hold water?

The Government is to invest £2.3bn in more than 1,400 flood defence projects to provide better protection from flooding for hundreds of thousands of homes.

UK floods

The Treasury is detailing projects over the next six years to improve protection for 300,000 homes, as part of plans for range of infrastructure investments.

The spending on flood defences includes major investments in areas such as:

  • Thames Estuary – £196m to be spent

  • Somerset – £15.5m on flood defences

  • Somerset Levels and Moors – £4.2m to benefit 7,000 properties

  • Tonbridge, Yalding and Kent – £17m

  • Boston Barrier – £73m

  • Oxford – £42m for the western conveyance scheme

  • Rossall, Lancashire – £47m for coastal defence improvements

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said: “We all saw the destruction and heartache caused by flooding last year and that is why this investment is vital to build up Britain’s defences for the future.

This investment is vital to build up Britain’s defences for the future. Danny Alexander

“The projects we are announcing today will protect some of the country’s most at risk locations ensuring that we will be as prepared as possible for future severe weather.”

Officials said the six-year programme would help prevent more than £30 billion of economic damage.

The spending announcement comes as Friends of the Earth revealed leaked documents suggesting there was still a half a billion pounds shortfall in the budget for flood defences over the next parliament.

UK floods in Somerset

The environmental charity said the documents from the regional flood and coastal committees, also showed there were £1.6 billion worth of viable projects that had been proposed but were not getting the go-ahead.

‘Plans don’t hold water’

Friends of the Earth climate campaigner Guy Shrubsole, who obtained the documents, said: “A year after Britain’s wettest winter ever, the Chancellor’s leaked flood defence plans simply don’t hold water.

“Faced with rising sea levels, the Government needs to be investing far more in flood defences to protect households and prevent climate change from the outset.

“The Chancellor must use his Autumn Statement to invest enough in flood defences to keep pace with global warming, and redouble efforts to wean the economy off flood-inducing fossil fuels.”

‘Government spin’

Labour’s shadow environment secretary Maria Eagle said: “Communities at risk of flooding won’t buy Government spin on what is simply a re-announcement of capital funding confirmed a year ago.

We are playing catch up on flood defences. Maria Eagle

“This is not new money – at the beginning of this parliament David Cameron cut the flood protection budget by over a £100m a year.

“As a result we are playing catch up on flood defences. The Committee on Climate on Change has already said that the Government’s plans could leave 80,000 additional properties at serious risk of flooding.”