Posted: Monday 17th February 2014

In light of recent flooding and the annual report published recently by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) calls for Government funding for flood and coastal erosion risk management (FCERM) to be extended.

CIWEM welcomes the fact that Government continues to invest significant sums in FCERM, in the face of the need to make budget efficiencies within Defra. CIWEM believes central Government funding is needed to mitigate flood risk and to provide greater resilience to climate change and the anticipated impacts on UK flood risk. However, funding is crucial not only to mitigate the impacts of flooding, but also to educate the population about the impacts of climate change.

There also needs to be greater recognition by the Government of the value of funding for maintenance activities alongside capital improvements to prolong the life of existing flood and coastal defences and also ensure floodwaters are conveyed through the land drainage network. We will need increasing and sustained funding for flood and coastal management for both capital and maintenance works into the future, as extremes of weather are likely to become more pronounced. CIWEM believes funding for new flood and coastal erosion defences should not be to the detriment of funding to support communities protected by existing assets.

Additionally, CIWEM’s Rivers and Coastal Group (RCG) is concerned by apparently contradictory statements recently made by the Environment Agency. Spokesman Peter Fox said, when asked about the budget cuts first announced in October, that the Environment Agency was having to save money and reduce staff numbers along with the rest of the public sector, but stated it would seek to “protect front-line responses and flood incident management”. Environment Agency Chief Executive Paul Leinster, commenting separately on the cuts to The ENDS Report, stated: “All of our work on mapping and modelling and new developments in things like flood warning will also have to be resized”.

RCG Vice Chair Marc Pinnell said: “We are concerned that non-structural measures may become undervalued. These should continue to gain funding in order to reduce flood risk to communities by ensuring land use planning decisions are robust, climate change impacts are better understood, and flood warning/forecasting and emergency planning are sustained and improved”.

CIWEM therefore emphasises the risk associated with the assumption, which may be held by the Government, that funding for capital schemes should be prioritised at the expense of other measures. This is unlikely to be the most sustainable or adaptive approach in the face of climate change.

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April 2021

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