The UK floods: EFRACOM on the Gvt’s new £130m funding

Press Release:  February 13 2014

MANAGING FLOOD RISK: MAINTENANCE AND DREDGING

“The Government’s new £130 million funding for emergency repairs and maintenance is welcome but must be spent effectively”, says EFRA Committee Chair Miss Anne McIntosh.

The EFRA Committee was ‘deeply concerned’ last July about cuts in maintenance funding for flood defences and watercourses, warning thatcommunities could be left exposed to flooding threats.

“Seven months after the publication of our Report on Managing Flood Risk people face severe and sustained flooding events in the Somerset Levels where there were repeated calls for dredging” said Miss McIntosh. “The correct balance of prevention and management techniques must be found for each local area”.

“The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee warned that the Environment Agency needed enough revenue funding to conduct necessary dredging and maintenance of watercourses and minimise the risk of flooding for the kind of communities now suffering it up and down the country. We also called for Internal Drainage Boards to be supported if they wish to undertake maintenance of local watercourses themselves. Local knowledge on the ground can only supplement what the national Environment Agency can do”.

The EFRA Committee has published a number of reports on flooding and recently took evidence on this winter’s flooding from the Floods Minister Dan Rogerson MP, the Environment Agency and the Local Government Association. The Committee will continue to monitor the situation.

Following repeated calls from the Committee for greater transparency regarding the allocation of flood funding between capital and revenue, and specifically how funding is divided up within the revenue budget, the Environment Agency has told the Committee that £147 million was allocated to maintaining flood risk management assets this year. This includes £30 million for controlling river weed, dredging rivers and removing shoals and silt, clearing screens and removing obstructions from rivers. Last week the Government announced £130 million more for emergency repairs and maintenance.

“The extra £130 million is an encouraging step towards putting better protections in place in the face of more frequent and challenging weather events,” said Miss McIntosh. “But we must understand whether the money available to cope with floods is being allocated in the most effective way.”

Notes to Editors

The Committee’s Reports on Flooding; corresponding Government responses; and recent correspondence on the Winter Floods are on the Committee’s web pages, at

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/environment-food-and-rural-affairs-committee/

The Committee’s Managing Flood Risk Report recommendations included:

  • Defra must set out detailed evidence to demonstrate to HM Treasury that flood management capital funding must rise year on year by £20 million over the next 25 years to keep pace with increasing flood threat. This must be matched by a better balance between revenue and capital funding, whether from government or other sources.
  • We are deeply concerned at the decision to reduce funding for maintenance of flood defences and watercourses which could leave communities exposed to the threat of flooding despite having benefited from considerable capital investment in flood defences.
  • It is essential that adequate revenue funding is provided to enable the Environment Agency to conduct the necessary dredging and maintenance of watercourses so as to minimize flood risk to local communities.
  • Internal Drainage Boards which wish to undertake maintenance of local watercourses should be supported in doing so, including by enabling them to retain the funding they currently provide to the Environment Agency for these services.

Recent flooding correspondence includes a letter from Dan Rogerson MP (including a briefing from the Environment Agency) and a letter from Rt. Hon. Owen Paterson MP. The Committee has also written to the Prime Minister.

FURTHER INFORMATION:

Committee Membership is as follows: Miss Anne McIntosh (Chair), Richard Drax, Jim Fitzpatrick, Mrs Mary Glindon, Mrs Emma Lewell-Buck, Iain McKenzie, Sheryll Murray, Neil Parish, Ms Margaret Ritchie, Mr Mark Spencer, Roger William

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