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£1bn a year needed to prevent flooding

Association of British Insurers

3 min read Partner content

An annual investment of £1bn in UK flood defences is needed over the next decade to guard against the effects of climate change, a campaign group has said.

Flood Free Homes, which was launched by the Association of British Insurersand is supported by Friends of the Earth, has urged the Government to make protection against flooding a “national priority”.

The group has called for a number of measures, including substantial funding, in order to prevent a repeat of the floods which devastated parts of England this time last year.

January 2014 saw around 10% of the Somerset Levels submerged for more than a month, and left around 800,000 homes without power for up to a week.

Warning against complacency, Deputy Director General of the Association of British Insurers, Huw Evans, said: “No action is not an option. Last winter’s floods highlighted the trauma and devastation flooding brings.”

While Friends of the Earth climate campaigner Guy Shrubsole suggested that the poorest and most vulnerable members of society were bearing “the human and economic costs of climate change”.

“We need to tackle this huge problem together," he added.

This comes as the latest Environment Agency data revealed that around 2 million homes in England and Wales were at risk from flooding, with over 500,000 of those at ‘moderate’ or greater risk.

As well as calling for increased investment in defences, Flood Free Homes has also set out other measures aimed at stemming the tide, including a zero tolerance approach to new developments in areas at risk of flooding and a cross party consensus on long-term solutions on the issue.

Chief Executive of the National Flood Forum, Paul Cobbing, said: “Flooding destroys lives as well a property. Managing flood risk should be a national priority across Government, with everyone playing their part and we still have a long way to go.”

However, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs defended the Government’s record and current plans to spend £2.3 billion on flood defences over the next six years, saying the commitment was “in line with the Environment Agency’s estimation of annual optimum investment”.

A Defra spokesperson told PoliticsHome: “We are spending more than £3.2 billion over the course of this parliament on flood management and protection from coastal erosion - half a billion pounds more than in the previous parliament.

“We will also be making record levels of capital investment, spending £2.3 billion over six years in improving defences right up to 2021.

The spokesperson also stressed that the Government was “taking action to protect people in the highest flood risk areas from spiralling insurance premiums,” by improving access to affordable policies.

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