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Spend £1bn yearly in flood defences

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Not Matching Flood Defence Spending To Need Is “Penny Wise And Pound Foolish” As Abi Calls For Spending To Rise To £1billion Per Year

Plans to get rid of the Thames residential lock keepers on the most managed river in Britain, which is prone to flooding, to get rent from the vacated houses is utter madness says GMB

GMB, the union for staff at the Environment Agency (EA), commented on statement by the Association of British Insurers that flood defence spending must rise to £1 billion a year over the next decade to cope with the rising threat of flooding. See copy on Press Association 20 Jan 2015.

Justin Bowden, GMB national officer for members at the Environment Agency said "The storm damage and flooding events of last winter showed beyond all reasonable doubt that the jobs at the Environment Agency, and the flood defences work they do, are a vital public service which if they are lost will have an irreversible cost for individuals and the public purse.

At the time, the Prime Minister said money was no object yet cuts to budgets and jobs still went ahead when common sense would say they should, in fact, have been increasing.

Failing to match flood defence spending to need is penny wise and pound foolish in the extreme and leaves the country more vulnerable to floods and drought than recent events have already shown it to be.

A perfect example would be the plans to get rid of the Thames residential lock and weir keepers on the most managed river in Britain, which is prone to flooding, to get rent from the vacated houses is utter madness."

End

Contact Justin Bowden 07710 631351 or Frank Minal 07713 079930 or GMB press office 07921 289880 or 07974 251 823

Notes to editors

Copy on Press Association 20 Jan 2015

Flood defences 'need £1bn a year'

By Emily Beament, Press Association Environment Correspondent

Flood defence spending must rise to £1 billion a year over the next decade to cope with the rising threat of flooding, insurers and campaigners have urged.

There should also be an end to building new homes in flood-risk areas, to prevent communities living in "constant fear of flooding", the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said, as it launched the Flood Free Homes campaign.

Despite planning rules, some 20,000 new properties are being built on the floodplain each year, including 4,000 in places where there is significant risk of flooding, the ABI warned as it called for a "zero tolerance" approach to the problem.

Stopping house-building in the floodplain has high support, with nine out of 10 people (90%) believing residential housing developers should be completely banned from building in high-risk areas, according to a poll carried out for the launch of the campaign.

The Flood Free Homes campaign, which is supported by Friends of the Earth, the National Flood Forum, the Know Your Flood Risk campaign and the Property Care Association's Flood Protection Group, aims to raise the issues of long-term flood defence investment and land and water management.

It comes a year after parts of the UK were hit by devastating flooding as the country was battered by a series of extreme winter storms.

The survey of 2,500 people by YouGov for the ABI found that flood defences topped the list of environmental issues that should attract Government spending, with more than a third (36%) saying it was the most important recipient of funding.

And almost three-quarters (73%) thought that local authorities were primarily responsible for ensuring new homes are built in suitable locations, with an acceptable level of flood risk.

The campaign is calling for spending of £1 billion a year on flood defences by 2025, a zero tolerance approach to inappropriate new developments in flood-risk areas and cross-party political consensus on long term solutions for tackling flooding.

Huw Evans, deputy director general at the ABI, said: "The need for this campaign to address the UK's rising flood threat has never been more important. No action is not an option.

"Last winter's floods highlighted the trauma and devastation flooding brings. How we manage our land and water has to become central to government decision-making across the UK, whoever is in power.

"Without adequate long-term investment in flood defence protection that reflects the increasing threat, a zero tolerance approach towards building in flood risk areas and political agreement, too many communities will continue to live with the constant fear of flooding."

Guy Shrubsole, Friends of the Earth climate campaigner, said: "With climate change pushing up flood risk, it's vital that the Government ramps up its investment in flood defences and stops building homes on floodplains.

"It's not right that the human and economic costs of climate change are pushed onto those most vulnerable to flooding - we need to tackle this huge problem together."

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