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Commons Committee Call for Flood Defences to be Prioritised

December 15, 2015
Environmental Health

In the aftermath of the recent floods in Cumbria, the House of Commons Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee have called on the government to prioritise spending on flood defences.

The committee say there are approximately 5.5 million properties at risk of flooding in England and Wales. Ministers though are likely to come under increasing pressure with the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) facing cuts of 15% over the next four years. The government has already committed £2.3 billion over the next six years to fund 1,400 flood and coastal erosion defence schemes in England, but as committee chair Neil Parish MP pointed out, part of that funding is still not in place.

“We are pleased that the Government is committed to a £2.3bn programme for flood defences over this parliament,” he told the Politics Home website. “But this relies heavily on investment from the private sector, which has not yet been guaranteed. We have asked the Secretary of State for a clear strategy outlining the impact of Spending Review cuts on vital services. We welcome Defra’s commitment to a six-year capital flood defence programme and its pledge to protect maintenance funding for activities such as river dredging.”

An initial assessment of the damage caused by storm Desmond has concluded that the bill will reach in excess of £500 million almost double the cost of the floods that hit Cumbria six years ago. More than 5,000 households are thought to have been affected by the recent storm.