Flood defence funding 'at bare minimum'
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee (Efra) has urged Government to ensure flood protection takes priority over cost-cutting in its winter floods report published today (17 June).
In the published findings of an inquiry into the flooding events of winter 2013/14, the committee highlighted that funding for maintenance was at 'a bare minimum' and was the 'first thing to be cut'. (Read the full report below).
With budgetary constraints unlikely to ease, the committee has called on Defra for reassurance that there will be no cuts to frontline flood and coastal risk management jobs at the Environment Agency, and for fully-funded plans to be drawn up to address the current backlog of dredging and maintenance on 'an equal footing' with investment in new defences.
Efra chair Anne McIntosh said: "We have repeatedly called on the Government to increase revenue funding so that necessary dredging and watercourse maintenance can be carried out to minimise flood risk, yet funding for maintenance remains at a bare minimum.
"Ministers must take action now to avoid a repeat of the devastation caused by the winter floods.
"The Government needs to recognise the importance of regular maintenance work and put it on an equal footing with building new defences."
The report also recommends a move to a totex approach to flood funding; to avoid confusion over capital and revenue budgets and an engagement and education campaign with key stakeholders such as farmers and landowners about their responsibilities.
"We want clarity for everyone when it comes to flood funding budgets," said McIntosh. "We see no reason why the Government cannot move to a total expenditure approach for flood funding to allow more flexibility to spend in the most effective way."
Yesterday, edie reported that supermarket chain Asda is now liaising with the Environment Agency to conduct full flood-risk impacts for all of its stores and distribution centres, as part of a wider report which maps out the increasing risks that climate change is having on business.
View the full Winter Floods 2013/14 report below.