While welcoming the government’s recognition that more resources are needed, chairman of the LGA Environment Board Councillor Paul Bettison said: “The additional £15M that has been allocated between now and 2011 will not be enough to ensure our villages, towns and cities are properly protected.
“More than half of all councils have told the LGA that they do not have sufficient resources to deal with flooding, and their budgets are set to come under further pressure in the coming months.”
Within the government's response to the report, the Environment Agency also outlined the deadlines by which LAs must finalise their surface water management plans (SWMPs). LAs in England will need to meet a deadline of March 2010 while those in Wales have until March 2011.
Consultant Peter Brett Associates will be bidding for some of this work and its director of water management Jonathon Reed said: "It will be challenging to complete SWMPs in this timescale but should be feasible for a small number of priority sites, particularly if the relevant stakeholders are already engaged."
Speaking to NCE, Environment Agency head of flood and coastal management David Rooke said that the SWMPs will help clarify who is responsible for surface water flood protection schemes and ensure these are dealt with by the appropriate party – whether that is the water companies, highways authorities, private owners or LAs.
Additional concerns were also raised yesterday regarding the government's failure to directly address the issue of skills shortages and poor pay for flood engineers in the public sector.
ICE director general Tom Foulkes said that the funding does not "directly address the long term problem of the shortage of engineers available to deliverer flood risk management", adding: "Secure, long-term funding is vital across the board and we must now ensure there is no return to stop-start funding, which has undermined industry confidence and reduced skills investment.
“The UK must learn to live with flooding and work to manage the risk whilst accepting we cannot eliminate it. Engineers and other professionals have a big part to play in making towns and cities more resilient to flooding, and especially in protecting critical national infrastructure.”