Thursday, 5 August 2021

Reducing Flooding Risk

In recent weeks, we have seen images of catastrophic flash flooding in Germany, Belgium, China, and India. Closer to home, Storm Evert caused substantial disruption in the Cornwall and the wider South West last week and, earlier this year, Storm Christoph caused significant damage to homes, businesses, and communities across the North of England. My thoughts are with all of those affected by these devastating events.

Climate change means more extreme weather, a higher risk of flooding events and coastal erosion. All too often, we are seeing households suffering repeated flooding – something this government is determined to tackle. Following our recent call for evidence to look at better protecting and better preparing our communities, we will be consulting this autumn on ways to strengthen the assessment of local circumstances when allocating funding. This will include looking at ways to ensure that our flood defence investment programme can further benefit frequently flooded communities. 

We have already made progress. Between 2015 and March this year, the Government invested £2.6 billion into flood defences. This has led more than 300,000 home being better protected. In areas like the Calder Valley, this has made a huge difference. Areas that were damaged by previous bad weather were spared this year, thanks to this investment.  

But there is more to do. Over the next six years, we are doubling the amount of money invested to £5.2 billion. Last week I announced that 1,000 flood schemes across England will receive over £860 million in 2021/22 for building conventional walls and embankments, improving flood water storage, and harnessing the power of nature to slow the flow of water and reduce risk. 

More locally, this new funding includes further funds for both the Portreath Stream Flood Alleviation Scheme and the Copperhouse Gate Refurbishment in Hayle to help deliver each project. Over the years, Portreath has suffered particularly from flooding and storm damage to its sea defences and I welcome the news that the Environment Agency will be commencing work on the new alleviation scheme around September 2022 which aim to offer additional protection the residents impact by this flooding in the past.

Across Cornwall, the aim is to have an additional 275 extra homes given additional protection against flooding and costal erosion. This is all part of the governments wider Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Investment Plan for 2021 to 2027, 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.  At a time when we are seeing more extreme weather both here in the UK and abroad it is vital that we continue to invest in these vital schemes.

These are just some of the steps we are taking in our comprehensive plans, all designed to give us the best chance of adapting to climate change. It is important that we act right across the system.  We will sadly never save every home or business from the effects of flooding, but it is my sincere hope that many more can be protected in the years ahead.

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