P R E S S R E L E A S E
Maria Eagle MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary, will today (19 November) use a Westminster Hall debate to warn that there are serious concerns about how prepared the country is for another winter of flooding.
The chance of a catastrophic flood happening in England within the next two decades, causing in excess of £10 billion in damage, is around 10 per cent. But the Tory-led Government has failed to take the right decisions on managing flood risk. As a result the Committee on Climate Change warns that Government plans will put an extra 330,000 properties at risk of flooding by 2035.
Runnymede has 6734 properties at medium to very high risk of flooding yet a number of recent reports cast serious doubt over the Government’s role in managing flood risk.
A National Audit Office report showed that flood risk is rising as half the nation’s flood defences have been left with “minimal” maintenance.
A select committee reported last month that only half of the flood defences in need of urgent repair as a result of the winter floods have been completed.
This weekend saw media reports of a secret Government report has shown that thousands of areas along Britain’s rivers are in danger of flooding as a result of poor maintenance.
Maria Eagle (Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary) said:
“There is no doubt that flood risk management has gone backwards under this Tory-led Government. David Cameron has abandoned the last Labour government’s robust plans for reducing flood risk, slashed the budgets, crossed his fingers and hoped for the best.
“We saw last winter that flooding can shut down parts of the country for weeks at a time. The Government must show leadership to prevent another winter of misery this winter.
“Ignoring the evidence on climate change has led to the Government making the wrong choices. It has taken a short-term approach when a long-term one is needed. We know that David Cameron’s climate failure will put an extra 80,000 properties at risk from flooding in the next Parliament.”
Arran Neathey (Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Runnymede and Weybridge) said:
“Local Conservative MP Philip Hammond has confessed that his government has left a £120m gap in funding for flood alleviation. Earlier this year the Prime Minister promised that ‘money would be no object’ when it came to supporting people affected. Many local residents in Egham and Chertsey are still waiting for repairs to their homes and it is a scandal that Runnymede Council seems unable or unwilling to do anything to help – even unblocking the drains to prevent further flooding seems beyond them.
“The next Labour Government will reduce flood risk by reprioritising long-term flood prevention spending. Labour will establish an independent National Infrastructure Commission to identify the UK’s long-term infrastructure needs, including flood defences.
“In Runnymede only Labour is serious about flood prevention.”
Notes to editors:
1. NAO: Strategic flood risk management (November 2014)
- ‘Total funding decreased in real terms by 10 per cent between 2010-11 and 2014-15.’
- ‘As of March 2014, only 16 per cent of lead local flood authorities have published their local strategies despite the requirement being in place since 2011’
- ‘…current spending is insufficient to meet many of the maintenance needs the Agency has identified for its assets.’
- ‘Between 2010-11 and 2013-2014, central Government funding for flood risk management fell, by 18 per cent for capital and by 10 per cent for revenue in cash terms.’
- Figure 8 (below) shows that between 2011-11 and 2012-2013 funding reduced, then increased again in 2013-2014 following the winter floods (Funding £m)
2 The efra select committee reported (14th Oct 2014) that only half of urgent repairs to flood defences had been carried out
“..a comprehensive programme of works has been implemented to repair and restore flood defence assets 890 urgent repair projects have been allocated funding right across the country. As of the 4 September 2014, 453 (51 PER CENT) of these permanent repairs have been completed, protecting around 200,000 homes”http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmselect/cmenvfru/701/701.pdf
3 Sunday Times (16th November) ‘Failure to clear rivers threatens flood chaos’ – “Thousands of areas along Britain’s rivers are in danger of flooding if this winter is as wet as the last, warns a secret government report.”http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/uk_news/National/article1484452.ece?shareToken=ac4e1f87bf6c33b86a3c02a9cb3c8d11
4 An additional 80,000 properties at significant risk to flooding over the next Parliament
- Number of additional properties at significant flood risk in 2035 [assuming current spending plans through to 2020/21] = 330,000
Environment Agency (2009): Long Term Investment Strategyhttps://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/292923/geho0609bqdf-e-e.pdf
- Number of new build properties in significant risk areas- based on development between 2001 and 2011- pp39
Adaptation Sub Committee progress report (2014): 4,000
- Average increase in properties at significant flood risk per year for 25 year period (330,000 /25 + 4,000): 17,200 (multiplied by five years)
5 Guardian (8th July) ‘Flooding: documents reveal UK government’s spin on protection cuts’ - “The government’s drive to spin its cuts to flood protection funding has been revealed in a leaked communications strategy from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), seen by the Guardian.”http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/08/flooding-uk-government-spin-protection-cuts