'There is work ongoing to identify the amount of money we need to spend on coastal defence, and it is certainly more than the current £500M, ' Young says. 'So in the spending review, no matter how pressed the Chancellor is, we would like to see more for flood risk management.' Driven by some very high profile problems over the last decade, the Agency has accelerated its activities to control and manage flood risk.
'There are still a few local authorities that need to be reminded of the errors of their ways, ' says Young referring to the 21 cases last year where Agency advice against development on the flood plain was ignored by local councillors.
'Sometimes the problem is conspiracy and sometimes it is just straight cock-up, ' she says, adding that authorities are getting better. The Agency will have more teeth for enforcement once the new PPS25 planning advice comes into force. Where local authorities go against Agency advice the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will be able to call schemes in for review.
And there is always commercial pressure: 'If somebody builds against our advice then we will pass the information to the insurers and advise them not to insure, ' warns Young.
Climate change and sea level rise, combined with finite resources to spend on flood defences, mean that every day tough decisions have to be made.
'The fact is that for the odd house or group of houses we can't really stack up an economic case to defend, ' Young concedes. 'But Kings Lynn is safe! There are whole towns - and nuclear power stations - that are on fast eroding coasts and we are not going to let them go.