Cost of new flood defences could exceed £1.2bn

A A A

Better defences against river and estuary flooding could cost at least £1.2bn over the next 50 years in England and Wales, climate change experts warned yesterday.

Michael Meacher, Environment minister, told a London news conference that the cost of planet change is "very important" and while it may not reach the same budget levels as health or education spending, "gradually the cost is going to mount. Whether it reaches those sorts of levels I cannot possibly say at this stage. But we are talking about several billion pounds as the century unfolds. We are talking sizeable expenditure in which we have no choice because climate change is happening and we have to defend ourselves."

The minister refused to speculate on who would bear the costs, but said a decision would have to be made on that issue and on the relationship between industry, households and the Government in relation to the tax component.

"We are a long way from that. What we need to do is sensitise public opinion, business opinion and government opinion to ensure we make the maximum effort in this country to reduce emissions, to minimise the effects and adapt to those that are irreversible. That's the message." A report commissioned by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions underlines the cost of doing nothing to counter the effects of global warming compared to putting in place preventive measures.

Priority areas - water resources, flood protection, building and infrastructure, habitats and species and planning, all most likely to be affected over the next 30 to 50 years - were identified for the first time. Mr Meacher said work on adapting to climate change was at an early stage throughout the world but that Britain was as far ahead as anywhere.

The Government has already taken action by requiring water companies to submit 25-year water resource plans that take climate change into account and incorporate estimates of sea level rise into guidance on sea defences. Work has begun on a "best practice" guide for those involved in land planning use and environmental resource management has been commissioned to assess priority areas for adapting to global warming.

On water, ways must be found to reduce demand, with more efficient domestic appliances, more meters, recycling and changes in behaviour. To deal with flooding there must be better flood defences and, on building and infrastructure, new ways of designing. The electricity supply network should be able to withstand climate changes.

In the regions, the vulnerable areas include the estuaries of the Mersey, Ribble and Arun. The low-lying Gwent levels, Somerset levels, Morecambe Bay, North Kent coastline and the ports of Heysham and Dover are also vulnerable. Transport links around Dawlish and the West Cumbrian coast may be affected. Landscapes and wildlife could change forever in the Hampshire Downs, South Downs, New Forest, Welsh Uplands, the Lake District and Cairngorms. Flowers such as the Snowdon lily, birds including the dipper and snow bunting and Arctic species could disappear. But somebirds such as the kingfisher and nightingale could benefit.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions