Both the Government and the Environment Agency will publish long-term strategies on flood risk management next year, the environment secretary has announced.
Speaking on Monday (26 November), Michael Gove said both documents should explore ‘new philosophies around flood and coast management’.
The environment secretary added these new philosophies would include looking at the need to achieve a balance between limiting the ‘likelihood of flooding and upgrading our resilience to it when it happens’.
‘As the risk of flooding and coastal erosion increases, we need a new long-term approach,’ said Mr Gove. ‘[The] Government will publish a long-term policy statement next year, and the Environment Agency will issue a new 50-year strategy, also next year
‘We will be looking at ways we can encourage every local area to strive for greater overall resilience that takes into account all the different levers from land use planning to better water storage upstream, and tackles both flood prevention and response,” added Mr Gove.
‘We need our communities and infrastructure to be better prepared for floods and coastal change, so that they recover more quickly from the damage and disruption and, where necessary, to help people and communities move out of harm’s way.’
Mr Gove added communities and businesses will also need to work alongside government to reduce their own flood risk.
‘We want to see more businesses designing in resilience when they invest in new buildings,’ he explained.
‘Successive Governments have made good progress on mitigating flood risk, protecting lives and reducing the damage to our homes and businesses,’ added Mr Gove.
‘Between 2015 and 2021, this Government is investing a record £2.6 billion in flood defences, maintained by colleagues from the Environment Agency. And we are on track to meet our manifesto commitment of better protecting 300,000 homes from flooding by 2021.
‘We are also pioneering ‘natural flood defences’, which support biodiversity and sequester carbon while lowering the risk of flooding. In Pickering, in North Yorkshire, we have slowed the water flow from the uplands by planting trees, restoring heathland, and installing leaky dams.
‘And in Medmerry, in West Sussex, the Environment Agency has actually realigned the coast, by allowing the water to breach the sea walls (creating new wetland habitats for wigeons and snipes): a new defence has been built to protect individual homes.’