Thursday, July 4, 2013

Lack of flood protection spending threatening UK food security, say MPs

Damian Carrington in the Guardian (UK): Ministers are failing to protect the UK's most valuable farmland from flooding, posing a long-term risk to the security of UK food production, according to an influential group of MPs. A run of poor weather since 2011 has led to extensive flooding of properties but has also severely dented the production of many foods, with the UK now being a net importer of wheat.

The environment select committee's report also said the government's spending by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to protect homes from flooding is not keeping pace with the rising risk, which is increasing as climate change intensifies downpours, and were also failing to act effectively to block the building of new homes on floodplains.

"Record rainfall in the past two years has led to extensive flooding, cost the economy millions and caused disruption and distress to householders and communities across the UK," said Anne McIntosh, a Conservative MP, and chair of the commons select committee on environment, food and rural affairs.

"Additional capital funding for flood defences [announced last Thursday] is welcome since every £1 spent on flood defences to protect communities spurs growth and delivers economic benefits worth £8."

The report found that the current model for deciding which flood defences to build is biased towards protecting property. "This means funding is largely allocated to urban areas. Defra's failure to protect rural areas poses a long term risk to the security of UK food production as a high proportion of the most valuable agricultural land is at risk of flooding," the MPs reported....

The Ouse Washes in flood, at Sutton Gault, shot by Richard Humphrey, Wikimedia Commons via Geograph UK, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

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