LGA demands flood fund fast-track

This summer's flooding cost insurers billions
This summer's flooding cost insurers billions

A planned increase for flood defences should be introduced immediately rather than being deferred for three years, the Local Government Association (LGA) has said.

After this summer's devastating floods left large areas of England underwater, prime minister Gordon Brown announced a rise in annual flood prevention funding from £600 million to £800 million.

The increase is due to come into place in 2010/11, but the LGA argues in its submission to the Pitt review into the summer floods that the delay could prove costly.

"Nobody wants to see a repeat of the carnage caused by last summer's floods, which ruined the lives of thousands of people and cost the economy billions of pounds," LGA environment board chairman Paul Bettison said.

"There is no guarantee we will not see a repeat of the heavy rainfall which led to that flooding and so it is vital we start improving our systems and defences as soon as possible."

Among the measures proposed in the LGA submission are improvements to buildings' weather resistance, more investment in drainage systems and stronger requirements for utilities to protect their essential infrastructure.

It fears a failure to act quickly could result in further flooding before 2010 having an unnecessarily severe effect on the public purse. This summer's floods, which affected Hull, Doncaster, Sheffield and Shrewsbury especially badly, are estimated to have cost the British insurance industry £3 billion.

"Action now to improve our drainage systems and upgrade our flood defences will prevent greater damage and higher costs in the future," Cllr Bettison added.

"Widespread flooding has a major impact on the road and rail network, which in turn has a significant effect on UK industry and commerce."


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