Council directors and politicians have criticised the Government’s National Flood Resilience Review for a lack of new funding and long-term planning.
Measures in the review, which followed last winter’s severe floods and was published on Thursday, included £12.5m for new temporary defences, a commitment from utility companies to increase flood protection of their key local infrastructure, and a new stress test of the risk of flooding from rivers and the sea.
ADEPT president Rupert Clubb
Rupert Clubb, president of the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT), told Transport Network that he was pleased to see the importance of the Adaptation Sub-Committee of the Climate Change Committee recognised in the document – ‘and more importantly reference to the next National Adaptation Plan’.
However, he pointed out that ADEPT has previously expressed concern specifically about the reduction of funding towards adaptation, of which flood resilience is an important component.
Mr Clubb said: ‘Our members recognise the concerns identified around the resilience of the highways infrastructure. We also recognise that our rural communities can become isolated during flood events. We welcome the research being undertaken by the DfT and look forward to seeing the conclusions.
‘However, developing resilience requires investment and in real terms the amount of funding to highways authorities has been decreasing. Local authorities already consider that current flood risk management funding falls short of need.’
'Not taking risk seriously'
Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake complained that the city was ‘barely mentioned’ in the review, ‘which really does smack of the government not taking the risk here seriously’.
She said the review ‘says flood defences for cities are now only the “ultimate aim”, as opposed to the “whatever it takes” line previously used by government’.
Ms Blake added: ‘As we know to our cost, there has been a severe lack of long-term planning when it comes to funding for flood defences and there is nothing in this report to offer comfort on that level.
‘What we can’t have is a repeat of what happened with the cancelled flood defences in Leeds in 2011, so I have invited the Secretary of State to visit so she can meet some of the residents and businesses so badly affected by Storm Eva, although I still await her response.’
Mary Creagh MP, chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, said: ‘Flood-hit communities will be dismayed by the new forecasts, which show that winter monthly rainfall could be 20-30% higher over the next 10 years. It is good to see the Government taking steps to work with transport, telecoms and energy companies to protect key local infrastructure, although the use of temporary barriers to protect critical assets is only a sticking plaster solution.
‘Latest figures show that a quarter of Lead Local Flood Authorities do not have a completed flood plan to deal with this increased risk. Alongside its 25-year plan for the environment, the Government should publish a 25-year plan to tackle flooding.’