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Insurers force agreement on flood defence package

Ministers have this week agreed to ring-fence flood defence funding, in exchange for continued insurance cover for home owners.

The agreement came after lobbying from the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

It will tie the government to maintaining flood defences for 25 years, to protect homes from events recurring every 1 in 75 years or more.

A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokesman told NCE that no cash will be available on top of the extra £200M announced last year up to 2011 (NCE 5 July 2007).

"Post-2011, the figures will depend on analysis and recommendations from the Environment Agency, expected in 2009," she said.

The spokesman said that households making flood prevention adjustments to their houses may benefit from reduced insurance premiums in the future.

Sheffield University professor of urban drainage Richard Ashley welcomed the decision.

"In principle it has to be a good thing, although it may distort how the investment in 'flood protection' – this is an old term - we are supposed to be managing flood risk – is decided upon. It will also focus on river and coastal whereas the big challenge is to be pluvial (from rainfall). It will be interesting to see the Environment Agency’s new pluvial hotspot maps and if they lead to insurability problems,” he said.

The Civil Engineering Contractors’ Association (CECA) said the deal was welcome, but the arguments should not have been won simply from pressure by the ABI.

"The Government has been pushed into adopting a long-term strategy for investment in flood protection, contractors have been saying for years this is the right way forward," said CECA director Rosemary Beales.

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