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Flood defence plans could damage economy, say property experts

Government plans that will allow residents and businesses to fund flood defences from April next year could damage the economy, the British Property Federation (BPF) warned this week.

The BPF said the plans risk causing uncertainty that could delay vital regeneration schemes.

It said it broadly supported proposals to increase the amount of investment in flood defences beyond that supplied by the state, but it did not believe sums the government are seeking from private contributions are realistic.

It was sceptical that households and businesses would be able to make up the shortfall caused by government spending cuts, and warned the proposed system would not provide sufficient certainty to property investors – and insurers – that the risk of flooding was being managed.

At present, central government provides 95% of the cost of protecting society from flood events, but the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is consulting on plans to let beneficiaries of flood defence schemes contribute private funds to move their projects up the Environment Agency’s priority list for funding.

The BPF also criticised government’s intention to give households greater flood protection than businesses – a move which it argued was not only impractical but could cause the damage from future floods to ripple out into the wider economy and cause damage beyond the immediately flooded area.

BPF assistant director James Anderson said: “It is right that those who benefit from flood defences help to fund them, but we struggle to see how, particularly given the state of the economy, private investment can reach the levels government is expecting.”

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