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 314.

    It must be time that someone starts a "spot today's Govt. u-turn" website.....

    ...create a list of everything they've done/said then each day check today's press releases and policy offerings to find a match with its complete opposite said last year/the year before.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 313.

    Travel to Leeds on the railway and you will see for yourself the need for £50.5m... caused by the creation of new flats, offices and hotels so close to the River Aire!

    Why don't they build away from rivers and canals... we could of course ask the designers of the existing new constructions, but I would doubt very much we be given HONEST answers!

  • rate this

    Comment number 312.

    Yet again the majority are having to pay for the lifestyle choices of the minority. If you buy a house on a flood plain then it is obvious you haven't done your research properly. This seems like such a lot of money for relatively few houses. Not with my taxes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 311.

    308 - it may be expensive but what about the cost of the clearing-up after a flood? Not to mention the heartache of the individual. Not everything should be counted monetarily.

  • rate this

    Comment number 310.

    Its cheaper for developers to build on flood plain and produces higher profits as it's flat and requires far less pre-development recontouring.
    Yet it should be prohibitively expensive to build there because of the cost of flooding to the local taxpayer and the suffering flooding causes local communities.

  • rate this

    Comment number 309.

    Whilst this is not a bad idea, they need to spend money dredging the rivers, streams etc that are so clogged that the water levels are already higher than they should be. If necessary dig new trenches and canals so that surface water has somewhere to go. Otherwise the water will just go somewhere else and flood other areas, thus exacerbating the problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 308.

    We tend not to dredge any more for several reasons.
    1) It's super expensive
    2) We move most of our stuff by road and lorry, so why spend the money
    3) No matter how deep you dredge and how high the levees, a river will revert back to its original state and surprisingly quickly (see Mississippi)
    4) Dredged rivers (like every river) still flood anyway

  • rate this

    Comment number 307.

    The problem is that this and previous governments has ignored the fact that rivers have in general large areas of land which is flat and called flood plain are liable to flooding and given this over to house building. The developers have snapped this up as it makes it easy for them to produce the homes we need and makes them huge profits and put the owners at risk

  • rate this

    Comment number 306.

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

    What nonsense...

    It's the Environment Agency who keep saying they have no objection to flood causing applications when consulted by authorities. They also drag their feet over acknowledging flood heights, their flood maps have been flawed for many years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 305.

    Local authorities are targeted (government micromanagement) on how many homes they allow to have built each year. With limited land available if a developer comes up with a plan that help the targets, guess what happens?

  • rate this

    Comment number 304.

    300. Goober123

    "... ultimately the real benefit is to insurers."

    I've been lucky. Never been flooded out (apart from a faulty washing machine). I suspect, however, that if I'd ever been forced out of my home for up to, or even over, a year an d had to haggle with an insurance company, I'd believe I was benefiting more than them if my home was properly defended against flooding from the start.

  • rate this

    Comment number 303.

    The people who may the most out of development are the landowners who get a massive gain in land value if they are lucky enough to get planning permission. Most of this land will have previously qualified for agricultural property tax relief thus avoiding inheritance tax.Perhaps a higher tax on land sales would be appropriate. I bet it won't happen soon.

  • rate this

    Comment number 302.

    Only had a quick scan so I may have missed the Free Market idiots saying - let them drown

    Well said, what a good idea.

    Let them drown.

  • rate this

    Comment number 301.

    Developers must be made to pay the cost of flooding they cause!

    At present our councils are forced to adopt flood defences and SuDs of unsustainably high density estates that flood existing communities below them - while the developers who made billions from these walk away with no liability.

    The tax payer should not be made to pay for developers' negligence!

  • rate this

    Comment number 300.

    What contribution are the insurance companies making to these projects? Zero maybe? Surely they should be making a considerable contribution so to guarantee their future profits? There's something quite perverse about the state paying for flood defense schemes to help people true, but ultimately the real benefit is to insurers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 299.

    Much of the flooding problem rests with an ailing drainage infrastructure that, once upon a time, was regularly checked and cleaned through. Cut-backs in local authority spending budgets have concentrated on essential work such as this, instead of leisure and other non-essential facilities designed for the few. Local governments have their priorities all wrong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 298.

    Work, that is the main thing. Where is the money coming from?

  • rate this

    Comment number 297.

    Renationalise the water companies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 296.

    This results in another crazy government scheme of building houses anywhere and everywhere ; they build on flood plains here that`s what they are there for !! think I need an mp`s salary to help solve the obvious !!

  • rate this

    Comment number 295.

    Don't be fooled by the government claims that so called Sustainable Urban drainage Systems - SuDs - are flood defences which prevent flooding.

    The flood defence SuDs of the huge high density estate buillt above my community is one of the main causes of the constant flooding of our roads, streets and some houses.


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