DEFRA to contribute £5m to flood-risk scheme

Michael Hunt

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, DEFRA, has set out plans today to contribute at least £5m to a scheme effecting households in Cumbria and Lancashire, which face a particularly high risk of flooding but are not protected by traditional community level defences.

DEFRA recently completed a £500,000 pilot scheme in Sandside, located in Kirkby-in-Furness, and The Sands, Appleby, in Cumbria, plus Sunderland Point in Morecambe, Lancashire. The scheme examined whether grants provided an effective means of increasing take-up of flood protection and improved the standard protection already in place on a number of properties.

The news of the extra funding by DEFRA follows help already provided by local authorities, the insurance industry and households themselves.

Government environment minister, Phil Woolas, said: "Traditional community level defences are not a viable answer to flooding in all areas, but individual householders can make a big difference themselves by protecting their properties. The Government wants to support people in making relatively simple changes which can nevertheless have a huge impact on a property's resilience. Measures such as door-boards, air-brick covers, water-proof walls and floors, and raised electrics, can all reduce any potential damage caused by floodwater.

"Research suggests that these measures can also cut the financial costs of flooding by 50-80%. They lessen the disruption and distress, and can halve the amount of time it takes to dry out and repair a property.

"Putting a package of measures in place can cost £4,000 to £5,000 for the average semi-detached house, but it could prevent flood damage of up to tens of thousands of pounds, as well as the attendant distress and disruption that flooding can cause."

The Government's floods recovery minister, John Healey, adds: "Last summer's floods were the worst for a generation, affecting 48,000 homes and prompting over 180,000 insurance claims.

"While councils and insurers continue working to get people back home as quickly as possible, and £133 million Government funding has been made available to communities to help them get back on their feet, the floods showed that individuals can also do their bit to minimise flooding risk and damage.

"Even small practical steps can make a big difference when floods hit. So I welcome the extra £5m that will be made available to help homeowners take the most effective steps to protect their properties."

DEFRA is also publishing today an outline of a proposed new National Flood Emergency Framework. This fulfils a commitment made by Hilary Benn on 25 June, following the publication of Sir Michael Pitt's final independent report into the summer floods last year. In line with Sir Michael's recommendations, the proposed framework, on which there will be public consultation, will bring together information, guidance and key policies in a single strand of planning. It will provide a resource for all of the organisations involved in planning for, and responding to, major flooding incidents.

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