Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Winter floods could batter England again if cuts not reversed, MPs warn

Damian Carrington in the Guardian (UK): The devastating floods of last winter could hit England again unless government funding cuts to flood defence budgets are reversed, MPs warned environment secretary, Owen Paterson, on Tuesday.

“Overall funding does not reflect the increased flood risk” being driven by climate change, the MPs' report found, while money for the maintenance of rivers and flood defences was at the “bare minimum”. The coalition imposed a 25% cut on flood defence spending on entering office in 2010.

MPs praised the government's “money is no object” relief efforts led by David Cameron, but said cost-cutting on defences was a false economy, leading to the misery of flooding and millions being spent on emergency action, rather than investment in flood prevention. The Environment Agency (EA) estimates every £1 invested in flood defences saves £8 in future damage.

“Ministers must take action now to avoid a repeat of the devastation caused by the winter floods,” said Anne McIntosh, Conservative MP and chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) select committee that produced the report.

“It is essential we get the funding in place. We have repeatedly called on the government to increase revenue funding so that necessary dredging and watercourse maintenance can be carried out to minimise flood risk, yet funding for maintenance remains at a bare minimum.”...

The Greylake Sluice Gates in the Somerset Levels, shot by Barbara Cook , Wikimedia Commons via Geograph UK, under the Creative Commons 2.0 license

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