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Flood defence spend must double says study

ANNUAL FLOOD defence spending in England must double to avoid a dramatic increase in flood damage, leading researchers have revealed.

A study for the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries & Food shows that increasing flood defence spending by £200M per annum could cut damage by £1bn.

Last week south east England suffered its worst floods for 40 years. The Environment Agency estimates that areas of Sussex and Kent recieved two and a half months rainfall in four days.

The rivers Ouse and Uck burst their banks causing widespread flood damage to buildings in the towns of Lewes and Uckfield in East Sussex and Tonbridge and Maidstone in Kent. Insurers estimate the damage repairs will cost around £400M to £500M.

'With current levels of investment we can expect to be spending £1.6bn per annum on flood damages in a few years, ' Dr Paul Samuels, part of the MAFF study team and principal engineer with HR Wallingford told NCE.

The research team, comprising Halcrow, HR Wallingford and Middlesex University Flood Hazard Research Centre, analysed potential river and coastal flooding in England, along with the value of potential damage.

The study shows that to maintain current average levels of flood damage at around £600M per annum expenditure on flood defences needs to be doubled to around £400M.

'For the price of a few small road schemes, we get a potential five fold return on investment, ' said Samuels.

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