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25-year deal for flood defences

The government has struck a deal with the Association of British Insurers (ABI), to maintain flood defences for the next 25 years in exchange for continued insurance cover against flooding for home owners.

The Government will protect properties at risk from less than 1 in 75 flooding events.

According to the Civil Engineering Contractors' Association, the deal is welcome, but the arguments should not have been won simply from pressure by the ABI.

"The Government has been pushed into adopting a long-term strategy for investment in flood protection, contractors have been saying for years this is this right way forward," said CECA Director, Rosemary Beales.

Floods minister Phil Woolas, said: "The devastation caused by last year's unprecedented rainfall has shown just how vital it is for people to be able to insure their homes and livelihoods against the risk of flooding.

But Beales says if flood spending had been consistent, then fewer properties would have been flooded in the first place.

"When existing flood defences in parts of the country were overwhelmed in recent years the cost, both financial and in terms of distress, caused by the damage to homes and properties, was significant and largely avoidable.

"Although contractors will welcome this approach, it's a shame that it took the insurance industry to convince the Government to take flood defence more seriously and put forward a long awaited proposal for investment in this vital area of infrastructure.

"In the last decade the flood defence budget has been cut and then restored three times, this stop and start funding did not help contractors to plan forward. A long – term strategy for investment means that contractors can gear their businesses up to deliver."

The ABI's Director General, Stephen Haddrill said: "We are pleased that the Government recognises that a long-term investment strategy, adequately funded, is the best way to manage the growing flood threat.

"It will help ensure that the flood insurance protection, relied upon by millions of householders and businesses, remains widely available. We will continue to work closely with Government, and review progress each year."

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