Flood spending needs to triple

Posted: Monday 19th April 2010

A new report from Environment Agency Wales shows that investment in flood defences in Wales needs to triple to around £135 million a year by 2035 to continue to protect properties from flooding and climate change.

In its ‘Future Flooding in Wales: Flood Defences’ report, Environment Agency Wales says the increase in investment would allow the current standard of protection for properties at risk of flooding from rivers and the sea to be maintained under the additional pressures anticipated with climate change such as rising sea levels, increased rainfall and more rapid rates of coastal erosion.

Around one in nine homes and businesses in Wales are currently at risk of flooding from rivers and the sea and around £44 million was invested last year in building and maintaining flood defences to protect them.

Environment Agency Wales is responsible for some 1,800 miles of flood defences and 5,500 sluices, outfalls, floodgates and barriers in Wales. Between 2003 and 2009 investment by Environment Agency Wales to improve flood defences reduced the risk of flooding to more than 5,800 properties.

Environment Agency Wales Director Chris Mills said: “This report spells out that a steady increase in investment is vital to maintain current levels of protection against rising sea levels, more rapid rates of coastal erosion, and increasingly severe and frequent rain storms due to climate change. “

Almost all funding for flood and coastal erosion management currently comes from the Welsh Assembly Government. Environment Agency Wales does not assume that future investment will be funded by Government alone and would welcome a public debate to identify other possible sources of funding, including enabling local communities to contribute to reducing flood risk in their locality.

Chris Mills added: “We have an overview of the risks and investment needs across Wales through our high level long–term plans, we need to work even more with local communities, the Local Authorities and others who can help to come up with local solutions on how to cope with increased flooding in the future. It’s community engagement on a scale that we’ve never undertaken before; it’s about helping communities to help themselves and to be better prepared”.

“Although flooding can never be entirely prevented, being prepared for flood can make the difference between inconvenience and complete devastation. People need to be as prepared as possible and one of the best things to do is sign up to the Environment Agency’s free flood warning service.” The free service provides vital early warning by SMS, telephone or email, and could help to save the lives of those at risk of flooding.

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