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Environment Agency spells out £745M flood defence spend

The Environment Agency has announced how over £745M of Defra, Welsh Assembly Government, Local Authority and European Union funding will be allocated to reduce the risk of flood and coastal erosion in England and Wales for the year to March 2011.

The investment includes funds to build new and maintain existing river and coastal defence schemes, develop flood forecasting technologies and heighten public awareness of flood risk.

The investment forms part of the Environment Agency’s strategy to reduce the risk of flooding to more than 200,000 additional properties across England and Wales by 2015.

Some of the key flood and coastal erosion defence projects planned to benefit from funding in the 2010/11 financial year include:

  • Nottingham (Midlands): £14M on this £51M scheme to protect 16,000 homes and businesses along a 27km stretch of the River Trent. The first stage of the works was finished ahead of schedule in January, between Sawley and the River Erewash.
  • Barking and Dagenham (Thames): £12M to improve protection to almost 5,500 properties. This includes the construction of two new pumping stations and the refurbishment of tidal sluices along the Beam River and Gores Brook.
  • Dymchurch (Southern): £11.9M to complete ongoing works on this £60m sea defence scheme which will contribute towards the protection to over 6,000 properties.
  • Wigan (North West): £5M to construct an upstream flood storage basin and bring improved flood protection to around 600 homes in Wigan.
  • Clwyd Estuary (Wales): £1.3M to reinstate flood banks on both sides of the River Clwyd. This work will help protect 1,150 properties in Kinmel Bay and parts of Rhyl.
  • Leeds (Yorkshire and North East): almost £0.5M to progress plans for flood defences in Leeds. The proposed scheme will cost a total of £149M – the largest ever planned inland flood defence scheme to date. The completed scheme would increase protection to one of the largest commercial areas in England and about 4,500 homes in the city centre.
  • Morpeth (Yorkshire and North East): almost £0.4M to progress plans to develop flood defences in Morpeth, most recently affected by flooding in 2008. The proposed £17m scheme is scheduled to start in late 2011 and finish by late 2013, providing increased protection to 1,000 properties.

Key schemes completed during 2009/2010 include the final stages of a £40m scheme to protect 3,300 properties in Carlisle. The project, after emergency Environment Agency repairs to shore up the incomplete sections, protected 800 properties from flooding during last November’s Cumbria floods. The Hull Tidal Barrier received £4M this financial year as part of a £10M maintenance programme to upgrade the structure.

Environment Agency chairman Lord Chris Smith said: “We, together with our partners in local authorities and Internal Drainage Boards, will invest over £745m on protecting lives and property from flooding and coastal erosion in the year to March 2011.

“The 2007 floods cost homeowners, businesses, emergency services and others some £3.2bn. The high costs of flooding underline the importance of continued investment in reducing flood risk, particularly in face of the more frequent and heavy storms and rising sea levels that will come with climate change.

“It is essential that we continue to defend communities, businesses and the economy from the risk of flooding and coastal erosion. The Environment Agency has completed over 116 flood defence schemes in the past two years, providing increased protection to over 77,500 extra properties.

“Whilst continued investment is crucial, flooding cannot always be prevented so communities must also take responsibility for being prepared – for example by signing up to the Environment Agency’s free flood warning service.”

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