Gov announces huge spending in flood defences as storms batter UK

29 July 2021, 00:03 | Updated: 29 July 2021, 00:10

Many parts of the UK have been hit by flooding in recent weeks
Many parts of the UK have been hit by flooding in recent weeks. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

More than £860 million is to be invested in flood prevention schemes across the UK over the next year, the Government has announced.

The plan, which the Government says will benefit over 1,000 local schemes and help protect homes and businesses, is part of the coastal erosion investment plan, published on Thursday.

“Flooding has a devastating impact on people's lives and that's why we're strengthening our guidance to ensure the measures are in place to protect our homes and businesses from the risk of flooding,” said Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick.

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"Our planning reforms will ensure that communities across the country know that future developments will be safe from floods.

"This new guidance will help local communities become more flood resilient by providing local authorities with the right tools to consider how flood risk can be prevented when planning for new homes."

The announcement comes after a tumultuous few weeks of weather, from sweltering heatwaves to heavy thunderstorms.

Recent severe flooding in European countries including Belgium, Germany and Italy has left hundreds dead.

Some 37 people died in towns near Liege, in Belgium, after the Vesdre river burst its banks, and flooding casualties in neighbouring Germany took the total number to 210.

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Towns around Italy's famous Lake Como were also hit by mudslides and floods, with firefighters carrying out more than 60 rescues, though no deaths were reported.

Back home, roads and Tube stations were flooded in the south of England, and a flooded hospital in Whipps Cross, east London, was forced to cancel all surgery and outpatient appointments due to heavy rain.

Hospital authorities declared a major incident and patients were moved from affected wards to other hospitals within the Barts Health group.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: "The tragic recent events in Germany and Belgium serve as a sobering reminder of how devastating flooding can be.

"It's important we take action right across the system.

"Our comprehensive plan will achieve this by tightening planning procedures, helping more people access insurance and making homes more resilient to the effects of flooding."

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The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said the "record investment" would better protect 336,000 properties and reduce the national flood risk by up to 11 per cent by 2027.

It added the plan could help avoid up to £3.2 billion in economic damages.

The Government also said that householders would benefit from changes to the scheme allowing insurers to pay an additional amount for the installation of property protections such as air brick covers, flood doors and flood resistant plasterboard.