UK floods: Government to spend £470m on defence as part of £2.3bn investment plan over six years

Project aims to prevent £30bn in economic damage

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The Independent Online

More than £470m is to be spent on improving flood defences, ministers will announce today in what will be seen as their own insurance policy against a winter floods crisis.

Some 1,400 projects to provide better protection for 300,000 homes will be included in the latest “national infrastructure plan” to be unveiled by Danny Alexander, the Chief Treasury Secretary. The move reflects fears that a repeat of last year’s floods could create a political headache for the Government in the run-up to next May’s general election.

The six-year programme is part of £2.3bn of capital investment included in last year’s public spending round, and will prevent £30bn of economic damage, according to the Treasury. It includes spending £196m in the Thames Estuary, £80m in the Humber Estuary, £73m on the Boston Barrier/Barrage, £47m on the Rossall Coastal Defence Improvement, £42m on the Oxford Western Conveyance, £17m in Tonbridge and Yalding, and £15.5m in Somerset.

 

Mr Alexander said: “We all saw the destruction and heartache caused by flooding last year and that is why this investment is vital to build Britain’s defences for the future. The projects we are announcing will protect some of the country’s most at risk locations ensuing that we will be as prepared as possible for future severe weather.”

But Maria Eagle, the shadow Environment Secretary, said: “Communities at risk of flooding won’t buy Government spin on what is simply a re-announcement of capital funding confirmed a year ago. This is not new money - at the beginning of this parliament David Cameron cut the flood protection budget by over a £100m a year. As a result we are playing catch-up on flood defences.”

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