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Minister pledges funds for 'sensible' flood schemes

BE RADICAL, be innovative, be visionary, but be sustainable, minister for fisheries and the countryside Elliot Morley told delegates at a 'Flooding, risks and reactions' conference last week.

Morley opened the conference by announcing that a funding review for flood defence was under way, and made it clear that money would be made available for 'sensible' schemes.

The announcement came in a week that saw heavy rainfall in southern England cause severe flooding in hundreds of homes and businesses - underpinning research showing that within 80 years a present day 100 year flood will occur at least every ten years. National research from the Association of British Insurers has also found that between 950,000 and 1.2M properties are at risk within the inland floodplain, with a total insured value of £35bn.

It estimated that losses could exceed £2bn after a major flood and in London the potential costs could run to several billion pounds.

Morley said he recognised the scale of the problem and had set a 'high level target' of establishing a database of all the UK's defences to help a strategic plan to be developed. The plan, he said, could then be used to make those responsible for their upkeep publicly accountable.

Morley added that increased public awareness will force developers into 'making hard decisions, leading to controversial solutions'. But he underlined the need for 'cost-effective solutions taking account of sustainability, the environment, and social factors'.

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