Committee of Public Accounts Press Notice

A STATEMENT FROM EDWARD LEIGH MP

CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTS

National Audit Office report: Building and maintaining river and coastal flood defences in England

Flooding is an ever present risk to millions of homes and businesses in this country but the Environment Agency has not done enough to improve the condition of our flood defences. No less than six years have passed since our Committee asked for remedial action to be carried out as swiftly as possible.

That fewer than half of the country’s high risk flood defences were at target condition at the time of the National Audit Office’s review demands an explanation from the Agency. We simply cannot say, if there is a flood, whether these defences would stand up.

Flood defences are critical to the protection of towns, cities and people’s homes. There were significant variations on the amount spent on defences, with only small change going to the North East compared with the Midlands and Thames.

I welcome those areas of improvement in how the Environment Agency manages its floods defences - especially that an additional 100,000 households have been better protected from floods in the past three years. But the Agency now needs to get its priorities right.

The Environment Agency should put more of its efforts in to protecting towns and cities, rather than empty fields.

Notes for Editors

Requests for further comment from Edward Leigh should be made via Alex Paterson, Select Committee Media Officer, on 020 7219 1589 or 07917 488 488.