Millions of homes 'at risk of flooding'

One in six homes in England is at risk of flooding, the Environment Agency warned today.

And with climate change likely to raise the risk of flooding through rising sea levels and more rainstorms, £20 billion needs to be invested in flood defences to protect properties in the next 25 years, the agency said.



Some 5.2 million properties are already at risk of flooding, with 2.4 million threatened by rivers and the sea, and a further 2.8 million at risk from surface water flooding from overflowing drains.



Thousands of health centres and doctors' surgeries, schools and miles of railways and roads are also at risk, according to the agency's Flooding In England report.



Almost half a million homes, offices, factories and warehouses are at a significant risk of flooding from rivers or sea - which means they have a greater than one in 75 chance of being flooded in any year.



The highest number of properties at significant risk are in the South East of England, where some 111,356 are threatened with flooding.



Boston, Lincolnshire, has the greatest number of properties at high risk - 23,700 - of any local authority.



According to the latest analysis of the impacts of climate change on the UK released this week, the risk of flooding is set to increase due to rising sea levels, more rapid coastal erosion and increasingly severe and frequent rainstorms.



Without an increase in investment in flood defences an extra 350,000 properties, including 280,000 more homes, will face a significant risk of flooding by 2035, bringing the total to 840,000 under threat, the EA said.



Funding for maintaining and constructing defences will need to double from £570 million in 2010/11 to more than £1 billion in 2035 to safeguard the same number of properties as are currently protected, the Environment Agency said.



Some £150 million a year will be needed just to address the risk of surface water flooding, which caused some of the problems in the devastating 2007 floods, the agency said.



In the floods two years ago, which hit parts of Yorkshire, the Midlands and the South West of England, 13 people died as well as two premature twins, while 55,000 properties were flooded and thousands had to be rescued from the flood waters.



Without increasing funding for defences, the annual cost of damage to residential and commercial properties could rise from £2.5 billion to £4 billion, the agency warned as it released its long-term investment strategy for England.



The Environment Agency's chairman Lord Chris Smith said: "The latest climate change data shows that the risk of flooding and coastal erosion will continue to increase in the future due to rising sea levels and more frequent and heavy storms.



"There are important decisions for us all to take about how to manage these risks to protect people, communities, businesses and the economy in future.



"The Environment Agency has completed 90 flood defence schemes in the past two years, providing increased protection to over 58,000 properties.



"While continued investment in managing these risks is crucial, we cannot always prevent flooding so communities need to take responsibility for being prepared - for example by signing up to the Environment Agency's free flood warning service."



The Environment Agency said more than 430,000 people in flood risk areas had signed up to its free warning service, which provides alerts by text message, telephone or email, and urged those who have not subscribed to join.



Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said: "We have invested record levels of funding in recent years but, as the UK Climate Projections we published yesterday make clear, climate change means all of us will need to do much more in the future to adapt and manage the risks of flooding and erosion.



"We need to make sure that we're up to that challenge - the floods of summer 2007 were devastating for so many people and we all need to work together to make sure we're as prepared as we can be in future.



"That's why I'm calling for a national debate on how we meet the challenge, what our priorities should be and, importantly, how the costs should be met."



Shadow environment secretary Nick Herbert said: "The Environment Agency's call for more investment in flood defence brings home the reality of climate change, and there will need to be a debate on the priorities, but the public must be protected.



"When a staggering one in six homes in England are at risk, it is essential that flood defence schemes are cost-effective and delivered on time, and that no unnecessary development takes place in areas that are susceptible to flooding."

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Travel
travelWhy Japan's love hotels are thriving through an economic downturn
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Life and Style
Alexander McQueen A/W 2014
fashionPolitics aside, tartan is on-trend again this season
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
Sport
Joel jumps over the board...and into a giant hole
footballFrom joy to despair in a matter of seconds
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

year 4/5/6

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you looking for a full...

MFL TEACHER, SUPPLY VACANCY, LOVELY SITTINGBOURNE SCHOOL

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: The Job We are currently recruit...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week