Work to identify additional flood protection measures for Cumbrian communities affected by extreme weather events like the record rainfall seen last weekend was announced by Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss today.
The new Cumbrian Floods Partnership group will consider what improvements to flood defences in the region may be needed, look at upstream options for slowing key rivers to reduce the intensity of water flows at peak times and build stronger links between local residents, community groups and flood defence planning.
The group, who will publish a Cumbria Action Plan next summer, will be chaired by Floods Minister Rory Stewart and made up of local authorities, the Environment Agency and community flood defence groups.
Elizabeth Truss said:
After seeing first-hand the impact of the flooding in the north of England it is clear that the growing threat from more extreme weather events means we must reassure ourselves, and those communities at risk, that our defences, our modelling and our future plans are robust.
The Environment Secretary also announced today a National Flood Resilience Review to better protect the country from future flooding and increasingly extreme weather events.
She outlined how her department would look afresh at how we calculate flood risk, in light of recent events, to be delivered by a new cross Government team. This will see Government updating ‘worst case scenario’ planning, considering the future impacts of climate change and carrying out a risk assessment of critical infrastructure, like electricity substations.
The review, also to be published next summer, will be led by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Letwin and include the Government’s Chief Scientist, Defra, DECC, DCLG, HMT and the Chief Executive of the Environment Agency.
Elizabeth Truss added:
We are already spending £2.3 billion over the next six years to better protect 300,000 homes from flooding, but we need to be sure we have the very best possible plans in place for flood prevention and protection across the whole country.
We will take prompt action where we identify any gaps in our approach and where our defences and modelling need strengthening.
Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, said:
Our thoughts are with people who have experienced flooding this week. Our teams are on the ground providing support to these communities as part of a multi-agency response, checking and maintaining flood defences, pumping out flood water, clearing blockages in rivers, monitoring water levels and working with local flood wardens in the areas worst affected.
Whenever an exceptional event happens it’s important to review what happened and how to prepare for the future. With a £60 million fund to help with recovery in Cumbria, in addition to the £2.3 billion Government have committed to protect homes from floods across the country, we have the resources necessary to manage flood risk in England. The National Flood Resilience Review and the Cumbria Floods Partnership give Government, the Environment Agency and community groups the forums to review and ensure we are directing our resources to protect people most effectively.
Rory Stewart will also be taking on a special Floods Envoy role across Cumbria and Lancashire coordinating the flood recovery operation across local agencies over the coming months.
To aid recovery efforts in the affected regions, the Chancellor has already announced an additional £51 million to support households and businesses affected by last weekend’s devastating floods in Cumbria and Lancashire. This takes the total support pledged by the Government to over £60 million.
This will be in addition to £2.3 billion of investment over the next six years to build 1,400 new flood defence schemes that will better protect 300,000 more homes.