Government outlines £5.2bn flood defence spending plans

The Government has today (29 July) outlined how £5.2bn will be spent over the next six years to improve the nation's resiliency against flooding, following the weather-related events that occurred in places such as London this week.

Government outlines £5.2bn flood defence spending plans

An extra £250m will be spent on flood and coastal defences compared to last year

As part of the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan to push the UK towards net-zero emissions, £5.2bn was ringfenced to create new flood and coastal defences in England by 2027.

The Government has confirmed that more than £860m of the £5.2bn budget will be spent by 2022 on more than 1,000 construction and design projects across England as part of the Environment Agency’s (EA) annual capital programme. Future budgets will then be decided following the allocation in 2022.

The Flood and Coastal Erosion Investment Plan has an ambition to better protect 336,000 properties by 2027 through the £5.2bn investment. It is anticipated that the plan can help avoid £32bn in wider economic damages by reducing national flood risk by up to 11%.

An extra £250m will be spent on flood and coastal defences compared to last year, which the Government claims is the higher ever annual investment. It includes ringfenced funds for some of the UK’s worst-hit regions for flooding.

Yorkshire and Humber will receive an extra £40m compared to last year, while the north west, which was ravaged by Storm Christoph in the winter, will receive an extra £53m.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “We are standing by communities and will bolster defences against flooding across England with many thousands more properties better protected by 2027.

“It’s important we take action right across the system. Our comprehensive plan will achieve this by tightening planning procedures, helping more people access insurance and making homes more resilient to the effects of flooding.”

Flash floods

The announcement arrives in the same week that flash floods caused havoc across areas of London and the south east. The EA issued give flood warnings across the south of England on Sunday alone, along with 19 flood alerts that included parts of Wales.

According to the Guardian, the London fire brigade took 300 flooding-related calls in just a few hours on Sunday, as roads and tube stations were engulfed by the flash floods.

More broadly, the flooding events in Germany and Belgium have caused around 180 deaths with Netherlands, Switzerland and Luxembourg also experiencing weather-related disasters.

Scientists have since warned that these types of events will become more common as the climate crisis worsens, creating calls for the Government to improve adaptation and resiliency plans.

In December, the UK became one of the first countries to publish an official plan setting out how the nation is responding to the climate crisis through adaptation and resiliency plans that focus on flood prevention and rewilding.

The Adaptation Communication outlines how climate mitigation will be “integrated across government departments” by focusing on the natural environment, infrastructure, the built environment and the private sector. The plan alludes to the £5.2bn in committed spending on flooding.

The new spending will enable householders to benefit from the Flood Re Scheme that allows insurers to pay additional amounts for the installation of flood resiliency measures after an extreme weather event.

A consultation will also run later this year, which will explore how the Government can better protect frequently flooded communities.

It is estimated that flooding damage cost UK businesses £513m in 2015 alone. Between 2015 and 2021, the EA’s £2.6bn flood prevention spending helped more than 314,000 homes.

Matt Mace

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