New flood risk proposals announced

A consultation into new plans for improved flood defences was announced yesterday (November 24) at the Environment Agency's annual conference.

The scheme, which comes at a time when the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is having its funding cut, aims to create a new national flood and coastal erosion risk management strategy for England.

The plan was announced by environment secretary, Caroline Spelman, who was given a rough ride over proposed cuts at the conference.

The new approach, according to Ms Spelman, meets all the suggestions of Sir Michael Pitt’s review of the 2007 floods.

Government would therefore pay for a share of the benefits and outcomes that each project could achieve, as opposed to the full costs of fewer schemes under the current guidelines.

Payments would be made based on the individual benefits of the schemes, such as for each household protected or value of economic benefits. This would mean that schemes in rural areas would be judged on a level playing field with schemes in more densely populated areas.

Ms Spelman said: “Last week in Cornwall I saw for myself the devastating impact of flooding on families and businesses alike.

“With more extreme weather patterns predicted in the future, this new strategy will give communities and businesses more power to influence how they are protected, because local involvement means plans and funding can be specifically prioritised and tailored.”

At the same event the Environment Agency’s chief executive, Dr Paul Leinster, said he saw ‘localism’ as the way forward for flood defences.

He highlighted a scheme in Worcestershire where residents had created their own flood defences with agency support – which he hailed a first for the country.

Details on the funding consultation can be found here.

And information on the coastal erosion strategy can be found by clicking here.

Luke Walsh

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