£12.5m for north England flood defences

 A total of £12.5m is being spent on new temporary flood defences in northern England, following a government review.

The review was commissioned after 16,000 houses in Cumbria and Yorkshire were flooded during the wettest December in a century last year.

Critics at the time said defences were not up to the job.

The £12.5m would mean the Environment Agency would have four times as many temporary flood barriers than in 2015.

Environment secretary Andrea Leadsom said the review set out ‘clear actions so we are better prepared to respond quickly in the event of future flooding and can strengthen the nation’s flood defences’.

She added: ‘Work is already underway towards £12.5m of new temporary defences stationed around England, better protection for our infrastructure and new flood modelling that makes better use of data and technology.’

She also said the government was investing £2.5bn by 2021 to protect families, homes and businesses from flooding.

Other recommendations from the review include:

  • A commitment from utility companies to increase flood protection of their key local infrastructure, such as phone networks and water treatment works.
  • A new stress test of the risk of flooding from rivers and the sea in England. For the first time, Met Office forecasts of extreme rainfall scenarios will be linked with Environment Agency modelling to provide a new assessment of flood risk.

The National Flood Resilience Review was set up after devastating floods last winter across parts of northern England.

Its aim was to assess how the country could be better protected from future flooding and increasing extreme weather.

During storms last December in parts of Yorkshire and Cumbria, flood defences did not work in some places, forcing thousands of people from their homes over Christmas.

Stephen Gibbs, chair of the Carlisle Flood Action Group, who lives in the Cumbrian city, was critical of the government’s approach.

‘The issue is government statutory powers to say ‘we will defeat flooding’,’ he explained.

‘The Environment Agency [EA] have a pattern – they have a flood, they have a review, then they get out the [sticking plaster] and hope for the best until the next flood.

‘Temporary flood defences are part of the filibustering that the EA are having to do. The Dutch defeated flooding because their senior politicians sat down and said “How can we defeat this?” And they defeated flooding.’


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