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Government to review its role in cutting flood risk

The Government has announced a national flood resilience review in the wake of the recent floods, while new funds have been secured from the EU to help improve flood resilience in the North West.

The Government has announced a national flood resilience review in the wake of the recent floods, while new funds have been secured from the EU to help improve flood resilience in the North West. 

At the end of January, environment secretary Elizabeth Truss announced that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) would be carrying out the review with a focus on four key areas:

  • Updating climate modelling and stress-testing the nation’s resilience to flood risk.
  • Assessing the resilience of important infrastructure such as electricity substations.
  • Temporary defences.
  • Future investment strategy.

As part of the new review, which will be led by Cabinet Office minister Oliver Letwin, the Government will look at its own role and that of wider society in reducing flood risks. 

It will investigate both temporary and flexible responses and hard flood defences for the years ahead, and include a dedicated risk assessment of England’s core cities.

A progress report will be published in the spring and the final review is due out this summer.

Flood prevention inquiry

Defra has also launched a two-month inquiry into future flood prevention in England. It will be gathering evidence on the following:

  • Whether Environment Agency and Met Office models for predicting rainfall patterns and the likelihood of future floods are fit for purpose, and whether they correctly calculate community costs.
  • How adequately current defences protect communities and farms from floods and whether current funding arrangements target spending in the right way.
  • Whether Defra and Environment Agency policies encourage innovative approaches to managing risk such as slowing water flow in urban and rural river catchment areas and promoting water storage.
  • How well planning policies ensure that new buildings are neither put in areas of high flood risk, nor where they would increase risk to others – and how well any new developments incorporate sustainable drainage and flood resilient buildings.

New EU funding

Meanwhile, the Environment Agency has secured €20 million (£15m) from the EU’s Life fund to help improve water quality in the North West.

The award was announced at the end of last month and part of it will be used to identify effective water and flood management measures, as well as to tackle issues such as rural and urban water pollution, natural flood management, sustainable drainage solutions, and the use of green infrastructure and ecosystem services.

It will be supplemented by €176.5m (£133m) from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, the European Regional Development Fund, national funds and €52.5 (£ 3.96m) million from the private sector.