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People "to pay for flood defences"

People will have to pay more towards flood defences in their area in the future, according to the Environment Agency.

The agency, responsible for river and coastal flooding, said government funding of £629M was not enough to protect communities in the future and that it was going to have to look to other sources of funding.

It said businesses, landowners and communities would all have to contribute to protect them from the increased risk of flooding and coastal erosion brought on by climate change in the future as spending on flood management has hit a new high.

At a flood and coastal risk management conference in Telford, Environment Agency chief executive Paul Leinster will point to communities which have already adopted an approach in which they contribute to flood defences.

In Hereford, Asda contributed £2M under planning conditions for a supermarket in the town and constructed 440m of flood defence as part of a £7.5M scheme to protect 196 properties including 25 listed buildings.

And in Bawdsey, Suffolk, local landowners and residents formed a trust to raise £2.2M to implement a coastal protection and flood defence scheme for a 250m stretch of coast, with the money raised by selling plots of land in nearby villages.

Leinster said: “We must now also look at alternative funding streams, including increased contributions from those who will benefit from future defence schemes.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • One of the key themes of the conference was “delivering more for less”. This has been a driver for the Environment Agency for some time, albeit the current economic climate has given it more of an impetus. Contributions from businesses and developers to fund flood defence schemes is therefore not a new topic.

    The headline about people paying for flood defence schemes is a bit misleading, though. There has, and will be, a local dimension, to future flood defence plans, in that flood and coastal committees can raise levies to promote schemes which have a high local profile but are not a priority in the Environment Agency’s national programme.

    However, in my view, residents will not be asked to pay in part for a scheme that is promoted by the Environment Agency because this would discriminate against poorer communities. There could be a few situations in the future where residents are prepared to fund a fluvial or coastal risk scheme in full because the works are not cost effective, but, consequently, the Environment Agency could not use any public money in such a scenario.

    Chris Wotherspoon, Technical Director, Grontmij

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