Homes and businesses in Cumbria and Lancashire are to be better protected from flooding and coastal erosion as part of plans published by the government and Environment Agency, with £82.1m invested in more than 100 schemes in 2020/21.Advertisement
The investment is part of plans outlining £5.2 billion of investment over the next six years.
More than £860 million will be spent in 2021/22 boosting design and construction of more than 1,000 schemes across England as part of the Environment Agency’s annual capital programme.
This is all part of the Flood and Coastal Erosion Investment Plan which sets out how new flood and coastal schemes will better protect 336,000 properties by 2027, helping to avoid £32 billion in wider economic damages and reducing the national flood risk by up to 11 per cent.
This follows the successful delivery of the government’s previous £2.6 billion investment between 2015 and 2021, better protecting more than 314,000 homes, alongside local partners.
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Examples of schemes that will receive investment in the first year of the six-year programme include Preston and South Ribble.
The Preston and South Ribble Flood Risk Management Scheme is a £49m project to improve flood defences for 5,000 homes and businesses.
The Environment Agency has been working alongside local councils for three years to develop the plans, which would include new defence walls and embankments.
The plans will also see existing defences refreshed and the use of glass panelling to maintain river views. There are also ambitious plans to create ‘Ribble Sidings’ – a variety of new wetland habitats created within a new network of footpaths along the South Ribble side of the River Ribble.
Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, said: “We have seen some devastating flooding around the world so far this summer. No one can prevent all flooding and climate change means the risk is increasing, but we can reduce the risks.
“Having completed the government’s six year capital programme on time and on budget, better protecting over 300,000 homes from flooding and coastal erosion, this year we began the government’s new £5.2 billion flood programme.
“These schemes should provide reassurance to communities and businesses, but no one should have a false sense of security. I strongly urge people to sign up for flood warnings and regularly check flood risk on gov.uk.”
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The record yearly investment will see an extra £250 million invested in flood and coastal defences in 2021/22 compared with last year – the highest ever annual investment.
The funding will be accompanied by a consultation in the autumn, where the government will look at how to better protect frequently flooded communities, following a call for evidence earlier this year.
It will consider how to strengthen the assessment of local circumstances, such as where areas have flooded on multiple occasions, when allocating funding during the six-year plan.
The government will bring in tighter guidance for planning authorities as part of a package of actions to better protect and prepare communities for flooding.
Improvements to flood insurance to allow flooded households to claim extra money to install property flood resilience measures – like air brick covers, flood doors and flood resistant paint – and measures to tackle the risks from surface water flooding are also included in the plans.
On planning, a recent review of decisions by Defra, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and the Environment Agency found over 97 per cent of planning decisions for residential properties were made in line with Environment Agency (EA) advice in the year 2019/20. However, 866 homes were granted planning permission contrary to EA advice.
New guidance for local planning authorities, designed to drive up compliance with planning rules, will reaffirm that they must refer planning decisions to Ministers when the Environment Agency is sustaining an objection on flood risk.
Under the plans, the Government will also consider how planning decisions in areas at risk from surface water flooding could be subject to the equivalent rules in future.
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Today’s announcement includes a raft of improvements to Flood Re, the UK-wide scheme which helps homes at risk of flood secure insurance cover.
This will allow households to build back better if they are flooded by claiming extra money to install property flood resilience measures – like air brick covers, flood doors and flood resistant paint – and benefit from discounted insurance premiums if they have these installed.
Other action taken includes the Environment Agency working with local authorities to provide better surface water flood risk mapping by summer 2022, which will offer crucial information to an additional 3.3 million people and 1.4 million properties at most risk.
In addition, the Met Office and Environment Agency will develop a revolutionary approach to provide faster communication of surface water flood forecasts to improve incident planning and response in fast moving situations.
The government will also carry out a review of maintenance responsibilities to examine whether existing local powers are efficient and if existing complaints processes used by residents and customers are sufficient to address surface water flooding problems.
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