"The Government’s new £130 million funding for emergency repairs and maintenance is welcome but must be spent effectively", says EFRA Committee Chair Miss Anne McIntosh.
The EFRA Committee was ‘deeply concerned’ last July about cuts in maintenance funding for flood defences and watercourses, warning that communities could be left exposed to flooding threats.
"Seven months after the publication of our Report on Managing Flood Risk people face severe and sustained flooding events in the Somerset Levels where there were repeated calls for dredging” said Miss McIntosh. “The correct balance of prevention and management techniques must be found for each local area.
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee warned that the Environment Agency needed enough revenue funding to conduct necessary dredging and maintenance of watercourses and minimise the risk of flooding for the kind of communities now suffering it up and down the country. We also called for Internal Drainage Boards to be supported if they wish to undertake maintenance of local watercourses themselves. Local knowledge on the ground can only supplement what the national Environment Agency can do."
The EFRA Committee has published a number of reports on flooding and recently took evidence on this winter’s flooding from the Floods Minister Dan Rogerson MP, the Environment Agency and the Local Government Association. The Committee will continue to monitor the situation.
Following repeated calls from the Committee for greater transparency regarding the allocation of flood funding between capital and revenue, and specifically how funding is divided up within the revenue budget, the Environment Agency has told the Committee that £147 million was allocated to maintaining flood risk management assets this year. This includes £30 million for controlling river weed, dredging rivers and removing shoals and silt, clearing screens and removing obstructions from rivers. Last week the Government announced £130 million more for emergency repairs and maintenance.
Miss McIntosh said
"The extra £130 million is an encouraging step towards putting better protections in place in the face of more frequent and challenging weather events.
But we must understand whether the money available to cope with floods is being allocated in the most effective way."