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Flood spending dips despite climate warnings

Flooding, monmouth, uk, 1963

Spending by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Environment Agency on flood prevention and costal erosion fell by £32M in 2016/17 according to government figures.  

The decrease in year-on-year spend comes despite increasing warnings about climate change posing an increased threat of flooding. 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report published earlier this week recommended limiting global temperature rises this century to 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels instead of the 2ºC limit as set by the Paris Agreement, to ensure a more “sustainable and equitable society”. 

Despite this warning from the IPCC, flood and coastal defence spending by Defra and the the Agency has dropped by over £30M falling from £820M in 2016/17 to £788M.  

In addition to the funding provided by central government, the Agency’s Regional Flood and Coastal Committees raises funding through a local levy for flood management schemes – but this is not included in the figures published by the government.

The reduction in funding comes despite a promise of an additional £36M of funding made in March by environment minister Thérèse Coffey.  

The additional £36M of funding was initially set aside for new projects in 2017 Autumn Budget.

Speaking in March, Coffey said that flood protection was also import in protecting an area’s economy:

”Not only will investment make places more resilient against flooding, but it will help the local economy, enhance the natural environment and protect important areas of culture – whether it is the homes, businesses and cultural sites,” she said.

The estiamted total damage caused by flooding in 2015/16 was around £1.6bn. The majority of which was to business and residential properties. 

A Defra spokesperson said: 

“We are investing a record £2.6 billion to better protect the country from flooding. This includes over 1,500 flood defence schemes, which will protect 300,000 homes by 2021.”

“While government funding will naturally fluctuate year by year in response to flood events and necessary repairs such as following Storms Desmond and Eva in 2015, the five year rolling average demonstrates flood spending is on an upwards trajectory and has increased by more than £100million in real terms since 2015/16.”

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