Government announces flood risk reduction target

2nd December 2014

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Adaptation


Alex Cooper

Long-term investment and better management processes will reduce flood risk by 5% by 2021, the government said today.

The new target was included in an announcement by the environment department (Defra) outlining how it planned to spend £2.3 billion on flood risk management over the next six years.

The money had been previously announced, but details on how it would be spent and managed have now been set out in a new strategy, together with a list of projects that will be funded.

The six-year time-frame of the strategy and investment is a marked change to how flood risk was previously managed, when the Environment Agency allocated funding annually. The longer time-frame will result in greater efficiency, for example, by allowing suppliers to package projects together and achieve economies of scale, Defra said.

Greater efficiencies will reduce costs by at least 10%, the department claimed. These savings will be reinvested, allowing more projects to be bought forward, it said. The Environment Agency is to consult regional flood and coastal committees on which scheme will benefit from this investment.

The agency is to make several changes to how it manages its flood risk management work, according to Defra. For example, the agency will share its pipeline of work with industry, group schemes into more efficient programmes of delivery, and provide targeted support for its local area teams and local authorities to help them deliver projects.

Defra estimates that funding from the private sector and local communities will increase to over £600 million over the lifetime of the programme. Contributions could come from a number of sources, including developers in planning contributions, and retailers or utilities wishing to protect assets.

Daniel Johns, head of adaptation at the Committee on Climate Change called the spending plan “truly impressive”. He praised the strategy for including surface water flooding, which he said had previously been ignored.

“The six-year plan does something no government has done before in pledging to reduce the net level of flooding,” he said. “It’s not just a pie-in-the-sky target, they have listed 1,400 projects that will be funded.”

However, he cautioned that most of the households who will see flood risk reduce were those that were at low risk. There is likely to be an increase in households at medium or high-risk of flooding due to the impact of climate change and continuing development on flood plains, he said.

The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) criticised Defra’s approach, which it said focussed on capital investment to the detriment of annual maintenance to reduce local flood risk, such as weed and vegetation trimming, and silt removal from rivers.

Spending on this type of work has reduced by 6% in the past five years in real terms, according to a report by the National Audit Office. Jed Ramsay, rivers and coastal treasurer at CIWEM, said: “The continuation of this policy will result in ongoing degradation, which will then cost a great deal more to restore.

“Timely appropriate spending is not only better in maintaining appropriate levels of flood risk but also is environmentally better and cheaper in the long term,” he said.

Transform articles

IEMA reacts to UK government's Net Zero Strategy

IEMA has raised concerns around a lack of funding for proposals outlined in the UK government's Net Zero Strategy, which was published earlier this week.

21st October 2021

Read more

Demand for fossil fuels will peak by 2025 if all national net-zero pledges are implemented in full and on time, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has forecast.

15th October 2021

Read more

Climate change remains one of the top issues most concerning the UK public, despite the economic turmoil experienced over the last 18 months, a poll commissioned by IEMA has found.

15th October 2021

Read more

Almost one-third of Europe's largest companies have now set net-zero emissions targets, but far less are set to deliver on their ambitions.

7th October 2021

Read more

A group of world-leading climate scientists has today warned that carbon pricing is currently too low to deliver a just transition to a net-zero economy, and that "urgent reforms" are needed.

30th September 2021

Read more

The Royal Botanic Gardens (RBG) in Kew has today unveiled a new strategy to tackle biodiversity loss and develop sustainable nature-based solutions to some of humanity’s biggest global challenges.

28th September 2021

Read more

How to Save Our Planet is call to action that aims to equip everyone with the knowledge needed to make change. We need to deal with climate change, environmental destruction and global poverty, and ensure everyone’s security.

23rd September 2021

Read more

Hannah Lesbirel and Beccy Wilson speak to IEMA members about climate anxiety

23rd September 2021

Read more

Seven of the UK's 17 key industry sectors are still increasing their emissions year-on-year, and most will miss their 2050 net-zero targets without significant government action, new research suggests.

23rd September 2021

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert