The Funding Gap in Flood Risk Management
"Greater local discretion over how funding is targeted has the potential to improve value for money in flood risk management. Local bodies will have to meet the new expectations placed on them - including that of raising investment locally - while under the pressure of delivering on other newly devolved responsibilities. If these challenges are not met, the Department's reforms will have failed to fulfil their potential to increase levels of investment in flood management and value for money to the taxpayer."
Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office,
CUTS to flood management funding have sparked fears for homes, farmland and crops in Formby.
A 12-week consultation began this month after the Environment Agency put forward proposals to scale back or stop its rural land drainage in the area by 2015.
The government agency says the £3million a year it spends on flood risk management and land drainage in the Lower Alt and Crossens catchment is no longer sustainable.
Graham Sheppard, the Environment Agency project manager, said
cuts to funding from Defra meant they were having to prioritise protecting urban areas and homes – which would could see a scaling back of pumping and an increase in the use of natural flood plains in rural areas as washlands and for flood storage.
He said: “We can no longer maintain and invest in assets which predominantly provide land drainage.”
Sefton Central MP Bill Esterson branded the proposals as being “unbelievable”.
He said: “The changes will leave people's homes vulnerable to flooding and threaten farm land and crops.
The National Audit Office reported, (on the 28th October), that giving greater responsibility and discretion to local authorities to identify flood risk and target investment raises significant challenges, especially during a time of budget cuts and other newly devolved responsibilities. The NAO considers that greater value for money can be achieved through these reforms, but key elements of what is required are not yet in place.
Local knowledge of surface water flood risk is far less advanced than national information on risk of flooding from rivers and the sea. Local authorities are experiencing difficulty in recruiting and retaining appropriately qualified staff. Only 30 per cent of the local authorities the NAO spoke to thought they had the required technical expertise. Local decision-making is hampered by the need to cross-refer between nearly 20 different plans that affect local
“At a time when we know climate change is going to affect the risk of flooding, a fact identified in the report itself, we are seeing proposals here to scale back the pumping activity which is currently at the core of the flood defences in Sefton, particularly at the Lower Alt.
“This report also states that Sefton's agricultural land will be used as makeshift flood plains. But Sefton boasts some of the best grade one agricultural land in the country. We should be using this land to grow our own food to become less dependent on foreign imports and reduce the rocketing price of food.”
flood risk management. It is not yet clear how the Department and the Environment Agency will provide assurance nationally that arrangements are working.
improved its own efficiency since the NAO last reported in 2007. The Agency has a better understanding of the condition of existing sea and river defences. It has brought 98 per cent of defences classified as 'high consequence' if they fail, up to target condition and is directing more of its funding towards these defences. In addition, the Agency has provided better flood protection for 182,000 households against a target of 145,000.
The Agency estimates that, owing to climate change and ageing defences, an increase of £20 million is required on average each year between 2011 and 2035 to maintain the current level of flood protection.
TAXPAYERS along the East Coast are concerned that they could be left footing part of the bill for sea defences when the present funding agreement runs out in 2015.
Currently the Environment Agency, through Government grants, pays £6.5 to £7.5 million a year to maintain sea walls and artificial beaches to protect more than 23,000 homes.
Councillors were told Government funding rules had been altered and EA northern area manager Andy Baxendale said as a result it was "unlikely" that 100 per cent of the money required for the flood defence scheme, known as Lincshore, would be given.
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Planning Policy Statement (PPS) 25 – Development and flood risk (England) supported by the PPS 25 Development and flood risk practice guide
Planning Policy Statement (PPS) 15 – Planning and flood risk (Northern Ireland) Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) (Scotland) Technical
Development and flood risk (Wales). Contents for BS 8533 includes:
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Normative references Terms and definitions Assessing the risk of flooding Managing the risk of flooding
For further information visit: http://shop.bsigroup.com/en/ProductDetail/?pid
The BSi are to hold a 'Flood Mitigation for Developments Conference' on the 2nd February, For information visit http://shop.bsigroup.com/en/Navigate-
Advice Note (TAN) 15:
Yorkshire According to a
However, central government funding to the Agency has reduced by 10 per cent over this spending review period compared with the last. If central funding does not increase after 2014-15, maintaining and improving the nation's flood defences will depend on significant additional funding being secured locally. Currently, some 95 per cent of funding is provided by central government.
The NAO found that local bodies will be hard-pressed to plug any funding gap while under pressure to deliver a number of other newly devolved responsibilities. And
Department's plans to encourage more local funding could see some defence schemes that have attracted private or other funding going ahead in advance of schemes elsewhere that provide greater benefits.
His colleague, area coastal manager Mike Dugher, stated that discussions were already underway with various public bodies, groups and organisations to look at ways of meeting the potential funding shortfall.
He said the EA recognised that maintaining flood defences along the East Coast of Lincolnshire not only benefited the local population but also "UK Plc" and it would be pushing this point in its funding talks with the Government.
However, he could not rule out the possibility that some of the money could have to come from local sources such as the county and district councils. Committee chairman Councillor Colin Davie
Yorkshire Water could have to take on the responsibility for flood defences in order to breach a huge funding gap which is will appear as a result of Government cuts.
But the Local Authorities were not only voicing “considerable concern about securing sufficient local funds, especially in the current economic climate”, less than a third felt they had the technical expertise to manage local flood risks.
Beverley and Holderness MP Graham Stuart, whose constituency was one of the worst hit areas in the floods of 2007, said public funding could not be relied upon in future. He believes “cheaper, more effective, less stop-start, less wasteful and an overall better service” could be delivered by water companies like Yorkshire Water.
He said,“ a public debate is needed to decide how much of a priority we want to give flood protection. If you
want a consistent, high-quality flood defence at an agreed standard, which is not subject to the vagaries of political pressure and priority, I think this is a way of doing it and worth examining. Just carrying on as we are doesn’t offer the security I want for residents in East Yorkshire.”
The report said the Environment Agency estimated it needed an annual increase of £20m or nine per cent more on its budget from the Government to maintain defences. But Government spending had been reduced by 10 per cent over the current spending review period compared to the last.
Margaret Hodge, chairwoman of the Public Accounts Committee, said: “The annual cost of flood damage is £1.1bn and 1 in 6 properties face this threat, but they are being put at risk through reduced funding and a lack of technical expertise. A huge funding gap is opening up between what is required to maintain current levels of flood defence and Government funding.”
said: "It would be a disaster to ask coastal communities to pay for sea defences."
He stated that parts of the affected region were "economically inactive" and pointed out that "we are not going to be building factories to create jobs in this area."
Councillor Davie described treating the east coast of Lincolnshire like an urban area as "fundamentally wrong" and called on everyone involved to do all they could to avoid local people being forced to pay out for sea defences. Earlier in the meeting Mr Dugher had told the committee that sea levels along the east coast were likely to rise by one metre in the next 100 years.
She said that Defra, which funds the Environment Agency was hoping for the private sector to fill the gap.
But she said this would have to increase dramatically because the private sector currently contributes on average less than £3m of overall spend each year.
She added: “It is deeply worrying that only 30 per cent of local authorities believe they have the necessary skills to manage flood risk. They are now responsible for local flood risk management and must do so with reduced budgets.”
Richard Flint, Yorkshire Water’s chief executive, said since 2007 they had been actively involved with local authorities and the Environment Agency in developing water management planning and a flood emergency response. They were now hearing “some very real concerns” about spending cuts on flood alleviation projects in Yorkshire, and were keen to “play a bigger role”.
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