UK's future flood security threatened by political gain, says CIWEM
Flood funding in the UK should not be treated as a 'political football' by politicians.
That's according to a new report praising the Government for its long term flood funding plan, but warning that possible funding cuts after the General Election could seriously hamper its delivery.
The Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) said the current Government's intention to reduce flooding risk by 5% by 2021, and reduce expected annual damages by 12% by 2050 provides the optimum return on investment.
In December the Government announced a six-year flood defence programme worth £2.3bn to better protect 31,000 homes and deliver the 5% risk reduction.
Targets in jeopardy
However CIWEM warns that any funding cuts following the General Election could immediately put targets in jeopardy.
Without the projected investment, overall economic damages caused by flooding would increase by approximately 250%.
While CIWEM believes the Government should be commended for aiming to reduce rather than maintain the current level of risk, it says the short-term approach to maintaining existing flood defences is not cost-effective in the long term.
CIWEM believes maintenance should receive the same priority as new defences which have already been confirmed for the next six years.
It also says that poor development control continues to allow inappropriate development in the floodplain which risks increasing the future funding burden of flood risk management.
This echoes findings by the Environmental Audit Committee who say "there is no sense we are tackling priority risks" as 12,000 new homes are being built at flood risk every year due to a failing climate change adaptation plan.
"The UK has one of the most forward thinking and internationally regarded approaches to managing flood risk in the world," CIWEM's chief executive, Dr Simon Festing said.
"It is important that whoever forms the government after the General Election confirms their commitment to funding both capital and maintenance costs at a level and on timescales which enable the benefits of this approach to be realised."
The coalition Government announced in last week's budget that it is bringing forward £140m of its previously announced £2.3bn flood defence programme, enabling it to start projects up to three years earlier than originally planned.