Cameron announced that £10m of the new funding package would be reserved to improve the Foss Barrier protecting York, which was overwhelmed at the height of Storm Eva.

The remaining £30m will be spent repairing defences on five rivers in the north of England, including clearing blockages and repairing pumping and barriers.

“I have seen at first-hand the devastation caused by flooding,” Cameron said. “And that’s why this work to repair and improve flood defences is so vital.

“More than £40m will be spent to fix those defences overwhelmed by the record rainfall we’ve seen in recent weeks and to make them more resilient to further bad weather.”

The cash takes investment in recovery from Storm Eva and Storm Desmond to nearly £200m, but environmental groups claim the Government remains “behind the game” on flood defence spending.

According to documents leaked to the Observer, the Association of British Insurers estimates the cost of flooding to be £1.1bn annually.

Friends of the Earth climate campaigner Guy Shrubsole said: “The Government’s review of flood resilience must take full account of the latest climate change projections, with spending increased in line with them.

“We should also be working with nature when it comes to dealing with flooding – such as not building on flood plains and allowing rivers to meander – rather than against it.

“Extreme weather events are predicted to happen far more frequently as climate change takes hold. Ministers must abandon their support for dirty fossil fuels and champion the clean energy revolution we urgently need.”

Flood money

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has accused Cameron of providing only a “short-term fix” for the problem, but the Prime Minister stood by the Government’s existing six-year, £2.3bn investment in flood resilience, which he said would protect 300,000 houses across the country.

On Sunday (3 January), Cameron made a further pledge to support charities helping flood victims by matching every pound raised, up to £2m.

However, the issue could get worse before it gets better, with the Met Office issuing severe weather warnings for rain this week.

The Environment Agency (EA) has issued more than 100 flood alerts and 22 more serious flood warnings across the entire country.

Brad Allen

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