With flooding becoming an increasingly familiar sight in communities up and down the UK, the government has promised a cash boost for storm defences, which they say will protect thousands of homes from flooding, enhance the environment and bolster economic growth and tourism.
Environment minister Thérèse Coffey has announced that 25 new schemes will receive a share of the £36m announced in the autumn statement to improve flood protection.
One of the biggest beneficiaries is Hull, where £12m will be spent on improving the defences along the River Hull to protect homes, businesses and infrastructure within the city. The funding will support the second phase of the project which started in 2016 and has so far seen 39 sections of defence improved over a 7.5km stretch of river.
In Derby, more than £300,000 will help create new wetlands and flood reservoirs to protect 110 homes from flooding and enhance biodiversity in residential areas.
Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said: ‘This funding will benefit projects across the country from Hull to Gloucester, from Wolverhampton to the Wirral, that need an extra boost for flood defences to help our communities continue to prosper and grow in the future.
‘Not only will this investment make places more resilient against flooding, but it will help the local economy, enhance the natural environment and protect important areas of culture – whether it is the homes, businesses and cultural sites in Hull to the pier in Seahouses or the natural environment in Gloucester.’
Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the environment agency, said: ‘In the face of challenges like a changing climate, rising sea levels and more severe weather, the Environment Agency is working hard to protect people, homes and businesses from flooding.
As with every project we undertake, we’re also striving to improve our environment and this additional funding will not only help us build flood defences, but restore vital habitat and bring nature back to some of our urban communities.’
The additional £36m of funding was initially set aside for new projects in the Autumn Budget. The £33.8m funding allocated this week will go towards 25 flood schemes over the next three years, in addition to the £2.2m given to 13 projects in Cumbria and Devon at the end of last year.
Paul Cobbing, CEO of the National Flood Forum, told Environment Journal:
‘We welcome the funding, although its a re-announcement from the autumn budget. It’s really good that a whole load of communities will be better protected and a variety of schemes will benefit, not just traditional flood defence schemes.
The question is how does this relate to our overall level of ambition in managing flood risk in this country, it would be really good to see how the national flood risk management strategy review tackles that question.’