Cars drive through deep water on a flooded road in The Nine Elms district of London on July 25, 2021 during heavy rain. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
TO reduce flooding in England, the Environment Agency will spend a record £5.2bn over the next six years, reported The Guardian.
Next year, more than 1,000 schemes will get £860m with significant funds for Yorkshire and the Humber and the north-west, regions that have been hit hard in recent years, the report added.
“The tragic recent events in Germany and Belgium serve as a sobering reminder of how devastating flooding can be. We are standing by communities and will bolster defences against flooding across England with many thousands of more properties better protected by 2027,” said environment secretary George Eustice.
The government also announced tighter guidance to deter the building of new homes in flood-prone areas and changes to a government-backed insurance scheme to allow flooded homeowners to be paid to better protect their homes.
According to the report, 336,000 properties would be better protected by 2027, helping to avoid £32bn in damage to the economy and reducing the national flood risk by up to 11 per cent.
But, the EA advised people to check their flood risk as these measures are insufficient to fully reduce flood risk.
Experts said maintenance budgets for flood defences would also need to rise and that local authorities still needed more resources.
Scientists said earlier in July that the catastrophic floods that struck Europe recently could become much more frequent because of global heating, the newspaper report added.
Parliament’s public accounts committee said in February that the government was not doing enough on flooding and that local authorities needed much more help, including more cash.
Emma Howard Boyd, the EA’s chair, said: “No one can prevent all flooding and climate change means the risk is increasing, but we can reduce the risks. [However], no one should have a false sense of security. I strongly urge people to sign up for flood warnings and regularly check flood risk online.”
Neil Parish MP, the chair of the Commons environment select committee, said: “The new investment plan is a welcome step toward greater flood resilience as we adjust our homes and our lives to cope with the changing climate.
“However [the investment in defences] must be matched by a long-term budget for maintenance. Local authorities also needed the resources to factor the impacts of the climate crisis into development decisions.”
Changes to Flood Re, the insurance scheme for homes at high risk of flooding, will allow insurers to help flooded households make their homes more resilient.
This could include installing air brick covers, flood-doors and flood-resistant plasterboard, and homeowners could then benefit from lower premiums, the report added.
According to Mary Dhonau, a flood resilience consultant, giving financial support to help those newly flooded to ‘build back better’ is a win for both the homeowner and the insurance industry.
Paul Cobbing, the chief executive of the National Flood Forum, a charity that supports people at risk of flooding, said that the detail in the scheme will be important, including how this all considers the impacts of future climate change.
A recent government review of residential property planning decisions found that while 97 per cent were made in line with EA advice in 2019-20, 866 homes were granted permission contrary to it.
The new guidance will reaffirm that planning authorities must refer decisions to ministers when the EA objects to a proposal on flood risk grounds.