Construction to start on 93 new flood defences


Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said flood victims who will not benefit from today's announcement should "keep applying"

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Construction is to start on 93 new flood defences in England this year to improve protection for more than 64,000 homes, the government has said.

The largest new scheme is an £80m coastal defence at Rossall, Lancashire, to improve protection of 7,000 homes.

The government says some schemes will also help growth, suggesting a £50m river defence in Leeds city centre would result in 18,000 new jobs.

Labour said that spending on defences against flooding had fallen.

Defra said that it expected 165,000 homes to be better protected by 2015 - some 20,000 more than its previous target.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said £2.3bn was being invested by government up to 2015, with an additional £148m in partnership funding contributions from local councils, businesses and private investors.

He said the 93 schemes would bring "huge relief to tens of thousands of homes and businesses that have lived with the fear of flood waters hitting their doors".

Some of the largest projects include:

  • More than £80m on coastal defences at Rossall, Lancashire, improving protection to more than 6,000 homes
  • A partnership-funded £50.5m scheme in Leeds that, Defra says, will protect 495 businesses and create 18,000 jobs in the city
  • Improved protection for 14,000 homes from £14.5m flood defences at Grimsby Docks in Lincolnshire
  • A £28.6m sea defence in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk
  • New sea defences at Anchorsholme in Lancashire, at a cost of £28.4m
  • More than £16m being spent on River Thames tidal defences
  • A £10m scheme on the east bank of the River Arun, protecting Littlehampton in West Sussex

But Labour's shadow environment secretary, Mary Creagh, said the government's investment in flood defences actually represented a cut.

"When we left government we were spending £354m a year on defending towns and cities and the coast from flooding," she said. "Even with today's announcement and the new money they announced before Christmas, this year they'll be spending £294m.

"So there's a significant cut, there's an ongoing cost to people that they're seeing reflected in their insurance, and while today's schemes are very welcome, partnership funding makes it quite difficult for the Environment Agency to plan."

Flooded road One in six homes in England is at risk of flooding, according to the Environment Agency

Malcolm Tarling, of the Association of British Insurers, welcomed the approval of new schemes but expressed concerns about levels of long-term flood defence spending and planning.

"We are in a position now going forward where the exceptional is going to become the everyday," he said.

"We are going to see more instances of flooding, I am afraid to say, and we are going to see more instances of extreme heavy rainfall - so flood defence management is crucial.

"But it's also crucial that we plan adequately so that we don't build new homes in areas of high flood risk."

But there was no money for some areas affected by flooding last year.

Heather Venn, a farmer on the Somerset Levels, said she felt "totally abandoned".

She said: "Farmers are getting angry and upset about it, and I know householders who have had their houses inundated are. We need somebody to be sitting up and taking account for us."

Environment minister Richard Benyon said the schemes announced on Thursday were those going ahead in the next financial year, and that more would follow in the future - possibly including areas hit by flooding before last Christmas.

"There are a number of schemes that will need to be taken forward in the areas that have had serious flooding, but no scheme goes from commissioning, from the idea of thinking them up, to commissioning in a year," he said.

"These are complicated engineering projects many of them, and we have to be absolutely conscious that we're dealing with taxpayers' money."

Map of top 10 most expensive flood defence schemes

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  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    An aged relative tells me that in Hampshire there used to be significanty more drainage ditches and workmen specifically employed to keep them clear...result? Very little in the way of local flooding

    Appreciate there has been a lot of building since then but maybe this needs to be revisited on a local scale - must be more cost effective?

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    My 100-year-old house is built on a hill. Even has the word "hill" in my address. My garden has flooded each year for the past 5 years. It's only a matter of time before flooding reaches the back door

    The reason?

    There's no space on the hill for new houses - can't be that

    There's a tiny stream on the hill, that dries up in the summer - can't be that

    It's blocked drains and nothing more

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    Government wants de-regulated planning and a presumption to building, so flooding will get worse.

    Why is Government paying for heavy civil engineering work when all it has to do is stop tarmac-ing green land and plant trees at the top of river catchments, both are cheaper than this solution....and fix the problem just asd well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    So my Taxes are now to be used to repair the damage caused by Private Companies being allowed to build on flood plains.
    Ranks alongside Foreign Business wars Iraq/Afgan/Mali, bank bailouts and foreign aid as wasted investment to benefit a few.
    What really galls me is insurance going up to enable flood plain dwellers to get a redecoration every year at our expense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    I think this will benefit a lot of people.

    Furthermore I see people on these forums are just never happy... Moaning that they stopped the funding for flood defences and then moaning that they are funding them again.

    I sometimes feel sorry for the Government to be honest! You people are impossible to please.

    The system will never be perfect.. but it's not as bad as it could (and has) been.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    Trying to make flood defences to protect huge areas costs a fortune. It might make more long term sense to try to make homes more flood proof since flash floods seem to be able to hit anywhere. And in flood plains - why not move to 3-storey homes where the ground floor is just the garage or sheltered play areas?

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Almost without exception WaSC's will have a plan showing developments on flood plains with the word 'Rejected' stamped on it .... which will have been totally ignored by council planning depts in their clamour to increase income from rates whilst allowing developers to profit by building houses in ridiculous places .... then of course everyone blames the WaSC when it all goes wrong!

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    No need to conduct environmental searches now before you purchase your next home.

    The tax-payer will bail you out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    Why is the tax payer funding this?
    A: to subsidize large building companies that build on flood plains
    B: for the tax payer to subsidize the water companies for profit
    C: to lower the living standards of those less well off until we reach a point where other countries have raised their living standards well above ours and we get back to being the workhouse of the past.
    What a World we live in!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    We all pay water companies for drainage.
    So why are they not liable for flood damage?
    If they had to foot the bill every time a home was flooded they'd soon fix what's wrong.
    Its yet another example of the UK populace being fleeced by big business!

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    A small step, why a small £120 million spend?

    This is far more important than HST (£49 billion+), doing far more for the economy.

    2007 floods cost Tewkesbury £100 million in the first year, ongoing costs increase this by about 50%.

    Then there's the ongoing regular floods for which there is still no official flood alleviation scheme and we are still building up the flood plain!

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Building on flood plains inland has caused much of the problem, not global warming. Weather changes but we have to plan for it. About time some serious money was spent on this. E. coast is sinking so any work is temporary but hopefully will last a while.
    The problem is tackled with a lack of imagination. Councils have a great incentive to allow houses on any land so they can collect the rates.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Shouldn't someone have thought about this when they allowed development on a flood plain? Really, it should be developers who pay for this. If they want to build on a flood plain, they should be required to ensure adequate protection is in place before any homes are built.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    @1 Rob H You seem under the impression that flooding is the fault of water companies. This is not correct. They do the water that's meant to come into your home, not the water that we want kept outside.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    You bought a house on a flood plain? Tough luck, buddy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    These towns are built on floodplains ... pieces of land that are naturally intended to flood. Artificial defenses just make places further downstream more likely to flood. You have to keep building the walls higher because the water keeps getting higher because you're building more walls. Don't. Build. Towns. On. Floodplains. Oh wait, they're still doing it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    It just never stops does it?

    Someone somewhere putting their hand into our wallets - that is.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    It should be a condition of planning permission that flood defences are provided where they may be needed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    This is a good example of how the government could invest public money to create jobs, shore up businesses and protect people's lives. The money will help local economies too. More investment like this please!

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Why do we allow new housing on flood plains, then have to build flood defences paid for by the tax payer?


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