The impact of reduced public funding for flood defences will demand a more innovative approach to managing flood risk, the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) has said today.
Spending reviews will see DEFRA reduce its resource spending by 29% and capital spending by 34%, with £2bn allocated to coastal and flood defences over the four year review period, 2011 to 2015. However this is less than the £2.15bn commitment made in the previous three year period, 2008-2011.
According to the Environment Agency, for every pound spent on flood defences, eight are saved in the future in terms of reduced damage. In the worst case scenario, a reduction of £150m in the budget over the next four years could cost the public circa £4.8bn in the future.
David Balmforth, who leads the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) work on flooding said flooding is one of the biggest challenges the UK faces. “With public funding decreasing in real terms, delivering better value from our investment in managing flood risk will be crucial. Funding mechanisms and regulation must work to enable progress rather than hinder it, and improved collaboration between the many responsible bodies will be essential. The private sector will also need to play a bigger role in future and Government’s role will be vital in creating a stable environment to attract and facilitate this investment.”
He continued, saying that in practical terms, investment will need to shift from a reliance on defence to building resilience. “We will need to change our focus, looking for innovative alternatives that deliver multiple benefits to society. Central to this will be public engagement -without the support of local communities, finding practical and sustainable solution will become much more difficult and costly.”