Sunday, 10 February 2013 20:19

Rural warning over flood defences

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Rural warning over flood defences

A £2.3bn government investment in flood defences continues to discriminate against rural areas, business leaders have warned.

The government says it now expects to protect 165,000 homes and businesses from flooding by 2015 – exceeding its previous goal by some 20,000 properties.

It comes after 93 new flood defences were given the green light to start construction this year.

But the Country Land and Business Association said many rural areas would see little benefit from the new partnership funding approach announced by Defra.

Savage cuts to the Environment Agency's maintenance budget of £50m would mean more areas were at risk of flooding, said CLA president Harry Cotterell.

"The new funding process has failed to deliver a complete overhaul of prioritisation techniques, cost benefit valuations and discounting assumptions for land.

Placing limited value on agricultural land and buildings compared to more urban residential properties limited the scope for rural flood defence projects, said Mr Cotterell.

He added: "The government must redress the balance by reviewing the process alongside rewriting the Treasury Green Book guidance in relation to flooding."

Mr Cotterell said he was encouraged by an Environment Agency commitment to allow farmers and land managers to undertake maintenance work when the agency was unable to do so.

Announcing the new partnership approach, Defra said more than 64,000 more homes would be better protected from the devastating effects of flooding.

For the first time ever, the government had provided additional funding for projects that would unlock economic growth.

They included projects that would provide better protection of land for business development.

Defra secretary Owen Paterson said the 93 schemes given the green light would bring huge relief to tens of thousands of homes and businesses that have lived with the fear of flooding.

"They can get on with their daily lives and work knowing that there are well built defences.

"This is also a message to the business community.

"By building defences that will unlock the economic potential of once blighted land we are saying to them that it is safe to come and set up.

"This will create jobs and grow the economy so we can compete in the global race."

The flood defence schemes bring to £148m the total of partnership funding contributions from local councils, businesses and private investors.

Defra said the increase in external investment had been made possible by a partnership funding model introduced by the department in 2011 to allow more schemes to go ahead.

"Our partnership funding approach is a clear success," said Mr Paterson.

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  • Guest (Tom)

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    Curious position even for the RSN.
    It's not discrimination; it's common sense.
    In many rural areas, there are no or very few people and properties and in many cases, these rural areas are flood plains. These areas should be inundated - regularly - for the health of the land.
    In addition, these areas can provide valuable flood storage for urban areas: where people who NEED protection live.
    The sea can't be held back forever, and all defences WILL fail one day.

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