The government has unveiled plans to reduce the risk of flooding and coastal erosion in England, including the launch of 39 new flood and coastal defence projects.
Of these new projects 21 will provide additional protection to over 13,000 households at risk of flooding, while the remainder mainly relate to vital repairs and safety enhancements to existing defences.
Over the next year £521M will be spent managing flood risks, with investment in the new schemes, ongoing work or completion of 108 projects already under construction, and a further 187 schemes receiving funding for development work such as feasibility studies, for possible construction in future years. The funding also covers maintenance of existing defences, developing flood forecasting technologies and heightening public awareness of flood risk.
The government expects to spend at least £2.1bn on flooding and coastal erosion over the next four years and improve protection for at least 145,000 homes.
Environment minister Richard Benyon said: “Protecting homes from the threat of flooding and coastal erosion is incredibly important for the government, and schemes which will contribute the most in terms of protection to households and economic benefit per pound spent have been prioritised.
“The Environment Agency and other risk management authorities have worked very closely to ensure that as many people as possible are protected from the threat of flooding using the resources available.”
Some of the key flood and coastal erosion defence projects planned to benefit from funding in the 2011/12 financial year include:
Shaldon (Devon): completion of this £8.4M scheme to protect over 450 properties from the risk of tidal flooding.
Pevensey Bay (East Sussex): continued funding for this 25-year Public Private Partnership scheme to provide protection for some 17,000 properties along the coast between Eastbourne and Bexhill-on-Sea.
Nottingham: ongoing construction of this £51M scheme to protect 16,000 homes and businesses along a 27km stretch of the River Trent.
Redcar (Redcar and Cleveland): ongoing construction work on this £25.5M scheme to reduce the risk of coastal flooding to more than 1,000 properties when completed.
Felixstowe (Suffolk): funding for Suffolk Coastal District Council to begin work on a new £8M scheme to reduce the risk of coastal erosion and flooding to more than 1,600 homes and businesses, including the Port of Felixstowe.
Upper Mole Flood Alleviation Scheme (West Sussex): continuing construction work on this £15M scheme that will protect over 1,000 properties in Crawley and Horley when completed.
Keswick (Cumbria): funding to begin work on a new £5.7M scheme to protect 180 properties from the River Derwent.
Key schemes completed during 2010/2011 include a £38M scheme to protect 3,500 properties and businesses in Carlisle, a £10M refurbishment of the Hull Tidal Barrier and a £1.1m sea defence project between Seasalter and Graveney in Kent.
Environment Agency chairman Lord Chris Smith said: “We will continue to protect as many homes and businesses as we can. We have plans to work on 147 river and coastal flood defence schemes in the next financial year which, when completed, will increase protection to thousands of homes.
“We will also seek financial contributions from organisations such as developers and businesses who directly benefit from these defence schemes. Doing so will allow our funds to be stretched further and mean more can be done overall.
“Flooding cannot always be prevented so we all must be better prepared, for example by signing up to the Environment Agency’s free flood warning service.”
Next month the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Cabinet Office, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Environment Agency will conduct the country’s biggest peacetime exercise – Exercise Watermark – to test the country’s arrangements to respond to severe, wide-area flooding.