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Government's track record on flood defence spending criticised

The opposition has denounced the government for cutting flood defence spending since it came into power.

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Under fire: Labour says the government are not adequately funding flood defences

Chancellor George Osborne confirmed in his Autumn Statement that the government would provide an extra £120M for flood defences over the next two years.

But shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh said it was not enough.

“This is better than the situation we were in two weeks ago,” she said, but added that “the cuts since 2010/11 have left us £180M behind where we should be”.

Speaking at a round table event organised by UK Flood Barriers and sponsored by Jewson, Creagh acknowledged that flood defences offer potential for communitybacked, shovel-ready projects to kick start the construction industry.

However, commenting on the fact that half the new funding requires “partnership funding” from local authorities or developers, Creagh said: “If that means asking an overstretched local authority to cut its highway funding, then you’re just robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

Last year - the first in which government provided money for flood defences on a partnership funding basis - around £74M was contributed by non-central government.

According to Defra head of flood risk management investment Daniel Johns, this year’s total is set to be around £154M, with £116M coming from public sources, £38M from the private sector and £84M from local levies.

Johns this week outlined the Agency’s plans at NCE’s annual flood management conference. He denied that these figures suggest local authorities are bearing the greatest cost of local flood defence schemes, as suggested by Creagh.

“Some of the public money is actually from developers, which has come through local authorities, so it is not necessarily through council tax,” he told NCE.

Readers' comments (1)

  • The government thinks that by building wind turbines it will control the problem over a 20-100 year time frame. Sounds like King Canute to me. I instead would vote for spending on flood defences now the cost of which will be dwarfed by the maintenance costs of offshore turbines in a few years time.

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