Reactive Flood Defence Funding is Unacceptable, warn MPs

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The Government’s reactive approach to spending on flood defences and a lack of long-term strategic planning is failing to protect communities at risk of flooding, a new report by an influential committee of MPs is warning.

The Environmental Audit Committee, chaired by Labour MP Mary Creagh,  published its findings following an inquiry: Flooding: Cooperation Across GovernmentFinal report.

The inquiry found that flood defence funding has fluctuated year on year as a reaction to major flooding events.  Furthermore, the condition of existing critical flood defences is in decline, says the report.

Furthermore, Local Authorities are not getting the support they need to manage flood risk in their areas effectively and the  Government does not know how prepared they are for mitigating future flood events or whether their flood plans are fit for purpose, says the report. It concludes that the extent to which the Environment Agency’s advice on whether, or how, to build in high flood-risk areas, is not systematically monitored, reported or followed up through the planning system.

The committee urged the Government to be “open and transparent” in conducting the forthcoming National Flood Resilience Review.

Mary Creagh MP, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, said:

“We know that flooding is projected to get worse and occur more frequently because of climate change, so it just isn’t good enough for Government to react to flooding events as they occur. Communities at risk deserve certainty from Government.

“The Government needs to put money into the upkeep of existing flood defences as well as investing in new defences. Failure to do so can have terrible consequences for residents and businesses when defences fail.

“Any decline in the condition of critical flood defences represents an unacceptable risk to local communities in flood prone areas. We urge the Government to go beyond its current target and aim to have virtually all its critical assets meeting the Environment Agency’s required condition by 2019.”

The Environmental Audit Committee considers to what extent the policies and programmes of government departments and non-departmental public bodies contribute to environmental protection and sustainable development.

Flooding: Cooperation Across Government final report

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