UK FLOOD DEFENCE schemes are set to be accelerated after an unexpected £200M boost to annual budgets was announced this week by new environment secretary Hilary Benn.
The extra cash is expected to be spent reducing the backlog of maintenance on defences and on new schemes to 'climate-proof' Britain's vulnerable public infrastructure.
The Environment Agency confirmed that the funding would enable a number of mothballed capital ood defence schemes to be 'taken out of the drawer'.
'We have been turning down schemes with a benet to cost ratio of 6:1 and this new money will allow us to address that, ' the Agency's director of water management David King told NCE.
'It will enable us to accelerate schemes to provide protection to communities that would otherwise be delayed.' A spokesman added: 'We need to think about climate proong the country - that means making sure things like roads and railways are better equipped to deal with extreme weather conditions as we have just experienced.' Benn pledged the extra cash while updating parliament on the response to the dramatic oding seen across Yorkshire, the Midlands and Lincolnshire this week.
'Government has always recognised the need to spend more on ood defence with climate change, ' he said. 'I can today inform the House that the Department for the Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) comprehensive spending review settlement will enable us to further increase spending across government on ood risk management and defences to £800M in 2010/11.' ticular emphasis is expected to be placed on protecting Britain's roads, railways, electricity substations and sewage works across the UK.
Much of last week's disruption was caused by surface water ooding and highlighted vulnerable infrastructure.
Protection is expected to focus on 'bigger storm drain capacity' and the provision of storage reservoirs and washlands in and around urban areas.
The Agency spokesman cited Gatwick Airport as a major piece of infrastructure in the oodplain that would requires better ood protection.
'We are currently looking at catchments across London including the Upper Mole (the catchment around Gatwick Airport) which may give some opportunities to reduce the risk to the airport.'