Budget fast-tracks £140m of flood defence spending

The coalition Government 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.

The final budget before May’s election outlined how 47 new schemes had been approved as part of the Government’s long-term investment programme, and said work would start earlier-than-planned on another 165 projects.

“We’ve already protected 230,000 homes from the risk of flooding and coastal erosion so far this Parliament,” Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said: “We’re now bringing forward more money to protect thousands more homes and businesses sooner than originally planned, as part of our long-term economic plan.”

Three years early

The Government announced a six-year flood defence programme worth £2.3bn to better protect 31,000 homes in December. The programme is expected to reduce the flood risk across the country by 5%.

Projects to be brought forward include:

In the North West, more than 2,100 properties will be protected by the development of the Fairhaven and Church Scar Coast Protection scheme in Fylde, which is now scheduled to start three years earlier than previously planned.

In the South East, the Southsea Coastal Flood and Erosion Risk Management scheme – which will improve the standard of protection to more than 2,400 properties in Portsmouth – is now scheduled to start development more than 2 years early.

In Yorkshire, the development of the River Foss Flood Risk Management project will help protect up to 1,500 properties from surface water and river flooding.

Never eliminate risk

“This programme of more than 1,500 flood risk management schemes will significantly reduce flood risk to more than 300,000 properties in England by 2021, benefiting people, the economy and the environment.” Environment Agency chairman Sir Philip Dilley said.

“Our priority is to do as much as we can with every pound of funding from government and local partners, but of course the risk of flooding can never be entirely eliminated. With one in six homes in England at risk of flooding, I encourage people to check their flood risk and sign up to the Environment Agency’s free flood warning service.”

Opposition parties and green groups were quick to voice their concerns when the Government announced its £2.3bn spending pledge. The groups highlighted that no new money had been made available above that earmarked in the last public spending round.

Campaign groups Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth say the funding falls far short of that needed to properly protect the UK.

Lucinda Dann

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