Environment Secretary Hilary Benn yesterday announced an increase in Government spending on flood risk management and defence.
During a speech in the House of Commons he revealed that the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs would, as part of its settlement in this autumn's Comprehensive Spending Review, see flood management funds increase from £600M this year to £800M in 2010/2011.It is not yet known how much of this will be passed on to the Environment Agency to increase its current £500M budget.The extra funding follows a £15M cut in the Agency's flood defence budget last year. It also came after a week where heavy rainfall caused £1bn in flood damage to thousands of homes and businesses, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), which welcomed the spending increase.ABI director general Stephen Haddrill said: 'Homeowners and communities have been devastated by the recent floods. And we know that our weather is going to become more extreme. Insurers are committed to serving their policyholders and helping them with the trauma of flooding but they need support from public investment in flood defences and management.'The increased flood defence spending was also welcomed by the Liberal Democrats.Shadow environment secretary Chris Huhne said: 'This is a crucial and welcome U-turn by the Treasury which was pressing for real cuts in flood defences as recently as two weeks ago, and insisted on £15M of flood defence cuts last year.'This increase needs to start now - not in three years time - and it must address the problem of sudden rainstorms overwhelming drains. We are preparing for coastal and river flooding, but not properly for the flooding caused by extreme rainfall that will become far more frequent with climate change.'