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Construction to start on 93 new flood defences

  • 7 February 2013
  • From the section UK
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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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