Flood review fails to provide long-term strategy, says climate committee

8th September 2016

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Neil Burgess

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) has voiced concern over the government's National Flood Resilience Review for failing to provide a long-term risk strategy.

The review, published today, outlines how the government will spend £12.5m on temporary flood protection measures, including flood barriers, mobile water pumps and command vehicles. The review was promised after the floods last winter, which saw large parts of the North of England suffer the worst storms and flooding in years, affecting thousands of businesses and local communities.

Flood defence minister Thérèse Coffey said more than 40 km of additional temporary flood defences would be made available across England to protect homes. ‘I think that is hopefully reassuring for communities. I can’t promise no one will ever be flooded again. But in terms of improving our infrastructure resilience, we did identify gaps in the review and they are being plugged,’ she said.

Improved rain and flood modelling, and closer links between the Met Office and the Environment Agency were also announced, while utility companies pledged to do more to protect infrastructure, such as phone networks and water treatment works.

The CCC welcomed the plans to address vulnerable infrastructure sites, but said the review ignored the risks posed by flooding from heavy rainfall that overwhelmed sewers. This it said was linked with the majority of flood damage in some recent events.

The committee said long-term measures would be needed to make homes and communities more resilient to the flooding that would still occur, even with defences in place.

Lord Deben, chair of the CCC, said that the review had fallen short of what the committee had been calling for. ‘As well as implementing short-term measures, such as better protecting key sites before flooding hits, we need a new and comprehensive, long-term strategy to address flood risk in this country,’ he said.

The committee called on the government to explain how the £700m extra for flood risk management announced in the 2016 Budget would be spent. Some £350m of which had been held back to take forward the review’s findings. The review details how only a small proportion of the money will be spent, said the CCC.


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