There is widespread reporting today on a new report from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) into flood resilience and the government’s defence flood programme. It claims that flood defences are not being properly maintained, with thousands more homes at risk of flooding.
The Environment Agency maintains approximately 76,000 flood assets across England – 95% of which we expect to function as designed during a flood. During Storm Henk earlier this month, these defences protected over 102,000 properties.
The team carries out around 165,000 inspections of these assets every year to make sure they are operating as they should be. As you would expect, we prioritise maintenance where there is significant threat to lives and livelihoods.
This work to maintain flood defences is supported by significant government funding. At the last spending review, the government increased funding for maintenance of flood defences by £22m per year.
Both Defra and the Environment Agency will consider the report’s recommendations as it continues to deliver record investment and protect homes across the country.
A Defra spokesperson said:
Since 2010, we have invested over £6 billion to better protect over 600,000 properties from flooding and coastal erosion. Thanks to this significant investment, 381,000 homes have been protected since 2015, with over 102,000 protected during Storm Henk.
We’re now going further to improve capacity to deliver flood defences, with a record £5.2 billion being invested between 2021-27, creating thousands of new flood and coastal risk management schemes to better protect hundreds of thousands of properties across England.
We will consider the PAC’s recommendations as we continue to work closely with the Environment Agency to protect hundreds of thousands of homes from floods.
An Environment Agency spokesperson said:
We are now in the third year of the current six-year £5.2 billion Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management investment programme. In the first two years we have invested more than £1.5bn to better protect more than 60,000 homes and businesses.
We maintain approximately 76,000 flood assets across England. Our defences protected over 102,000 properties during Storm Henk – and we prioritise maintenance where there is significant threat to lives and livelihoods.
We will consider the committee’s recommendations as we continue to deliver our record investment and protecting hundreds of thousands of homes across the country from the effects of flooding.