Government to invest £5bn in flooding defences after ‘misery and upheaval’ of 2019

Kate Devlin
A car is partially submerged in flood waters in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, 26 February 2020: Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images
A car is partially submerged in flood waters in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, 26 February 2020: Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images

Ministers are to invest £5bn over the next seven years to help protect more than 300,000 homes and businesses in England from flooding.

The money will help create about 2,000 new flood and coastal defences.

Households and businesses will also be supported to get back on their feet after suffering water damage.

But the measures will include potentially controversial changes to the scheme which insures homes in flood-prone areas.

In March Boris Johnson was forced to defend his decision not to visit areas devastated by floods, and claimed the emergency services had advised him to stay away. But he did visit flood hit homes during the general election last December.

Announcing the investment in flood defences, the prime minister said that last winter he had seen for himself “the misery and upheaval that flooding can bring to lives and livelihoods”.

Up to £170m of the money will be spent to speed up work on schemes that will start construction either this year or next.

Ministers say the investment will save money in the long run, preventing £32bn in economic damage.

More detail will be set out later on Tuesday when the Environment Agency publishes its long-term flood strategy for England.

Among the proposals will be plans to plant trees, restore peatland and wetlands and properly manage soil to reduce flood risk, while also benefiting nature and the climate.

There will also be a review of policy on building in areas at flood risk, to ensure future developments are safe from floods.

And homeowners might be offered lower insurance premiums if they undertake specific measures to cut their risk.

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