Saturday, November 20, 2010

UK flood defence spending 'faces 27% cut'

Damian Carrington in the Guardian (UK): As Cornwall counts the cost of last week's widespread flooding, the government faces a storm of criticism over cuts to flood defence spending. The department for the environment has said that funding over the next four years would be "just 8% less than our average yearly spend".

But Lord Smith, the chairman of the Environment Agency, told the Observer that flood defence spending would be "cut in cash terms [by] about 27% and that will happen immediately".Smith said: "There will be communities that would – if funding had remained in place as at present – be starting flood defence work in a year or two years' time that will now be delayed."

Mary Creagh, the shadow environment secretary, said: "The devastation and anxiety that flooding causes is absolutely huge. We need the government to spell out which schemes are going to be postponed or cancelled as a result of this reduction."

"I am very angry," said Mary Dhonau, the chief executive of the National Flood Forum, a charity that represents more than 200 community flood prevention groups around the country. "Because of government cuts there could be more people dying as a result of floods. I don't think I am being alarmist, I'm just thinking of the worst-case scenario."

Caroline Spelman, the environment secretary, rejected Labour's attack: "Labour pencilled in massive cuts of 50% in capital spending across government, with the risk of devastating consequences for flood protection. The 8% reduction is a much better settlement than this. Until Labour care to share with us what they would cut, their attacks lack any credibility."…

That's the flag of Cornwall

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