Communities 'must contribute' to flood protection

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The Independent Online

Businesses, landowners and communities will have to make a bigger contribution to paying for flood defences in their area in the future, the Environment Agency warned today.

The government agency, which has responsibility for river and coastal flooding and co-ordinates management of surface water flooding, said its spending on flood management was at record levels.

But despite Government funding to the tune of £629 million this financial year, the agency said other sources of cash would need to be found to protect communities from the increased risk of flooding and coastal erosion brought on by climate change in the future.

At a flood and coastal risk management conference in Telford today, Environment Agency chief executive Dr Paul Leinster will point to communities which have already adopted an approach in which they contribute to flood defences.

In Hereford, Asda contributed £2 million under planning conditions for a supermarket in the town and constructed 440 metres of flood defence as part of a £7.5 million scheme to protect 196 properties including 25 listed buildings.

And in Bawdsey, Suffolk, local landowners and residents formed a trust to raise £2.2 million to implement a coastal protection and flood defence scheme for a 250 metre stretch of coast, with the money raised by selling plots of land in nearby villages.

Dr Leinster said: "The Environment Agency has been given £629 million by Defra (the Environment Department) to reduce flood and coastal risk this year, £21 million more than last year.

"We are on track to reduce flood risk to 160,000 properties in England between April 2008 and March 2011 - exceeding our Government target for the period by 15,000.

"Whilst continued government investment in managing the risk of flooding is important, we must now also look at alternative funding streams, including increased contributions from those who will benefit from future defence schemes."

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