Local authorities lack the resources they need to help protect vulnerable communities from flood risks, a group of MPs has warned.
A report by the environment, food and rural affairs select committee criticises the government’s vague flood defence plans and warns that 5.2m properties are currently at risk from flooding.
It also highlights the need to provide long-term funding for the maintenance of existing and new flood defences.
In addition, the report examines the mental health impacts of severe flooding and calls for an action plan addressing this alongside the economic and physical effects.
It calls for local authorities to be given the resources they need to effectively factor climate change projections into local planning decisions, thus avoiding development in areas at risk from flooding.
And the report calls for local people to be treated as ‘vital delivery partners’, rather than ‘passive recipients’, noting that such engagement brings ‘real value’ to flood risk schemes.
‘If the government will not set well-defined targets for flood resilience, it will waste millions of pounds playing catch-up,’ said committee chair, Neil Parish.
‘We must accept that as floods are here to stay, so must be the defences we build. Long-term funding is needed, committing to the maintenance of existing- and future- defences. Meanwhile, local authorities lack the competencies and resources they need to factor flood projections into planning and development decisions. This must be addressed.’
Last year, a report by the National Audit Office claimed a proportion of money spent on flood defences in deprived areas has ‘reduced substantially’ in the last six years.
Responding to the report, a Defra spokesperson said: ‘As the report recognises, we are investing a record £5.2 billion in 2,000 new flood and coastal defences between 2021-27, better protecting 336,000 properties and building on the significant progress already made to respond to climate change.
‘We have a comprehensive long-term plan to invest in new defence assets, maintain our existing ones and double the number of our projects that harness the power of nature to reduce flood risk – all designed to prepare the country for future flooding and coastal erosion.’
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