Provisions for flood defence investment in today’s Budget have been branded a ‘sticking plaster’ by an engineering body.
Delivering his Budget speech today, Chancellor George Osborne announced a £140m pot, which is expected to be on top of the £130m already pledged in February to repair defences damaged this winter, though only some will be available this year.
But with recent floods causing at least £1bn of damage and the prospect of more frequent extreme weather events being predicted by various experts, many believe this is not enough.
Dr Colin Brown, director of engineering at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: “The £140m announced in today’s Budget for repairs to UK flood defences is a ‘sticking plaster’ approach and simply does not go far enough.
“The Government needs to be investing in new flood defences and on-going maintenance projects to ensure long-term UK resilience, neither of which was mentioned by the Chancellor. Equally, there was no mention of resilience plans for other extreme weather conditions which the UK will be increasingly susceptible to in future years.
“Every £1 spent in resilience saves £4 in future relief and rebuilding costs, which is why we need to be taking a much longer-term view of UK infrastructure.”
In January the government’s official advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, warned of a £500m hole in flood defence spending that could result in £3bn of avoidable damage.
Friends of the Earth economics campaigner David Powell said: "Despite George Osborne's pledge last month to tackle climate change, it's dirty business as usual in this year's Budget.
"Merely weeks after promising action on flooding and global warming, the best the Chancellor can manage is a U-turn on his own reckless flood defence cuts, and caving in to big business lobbying on pollution tax.
"Mr Osborne says he wants to make our economy 'resilient', but Britons face paying a hefty price for his failure to confront the reality of climate change."
Head of water at consultancy WSP Ola Holmstrom said that while it was encouraging to see the Government have recognised additional funding was needed to improve flood defences, the measures do not go far enough.
“A much more substantial investment will be required to facilitate the fundamental societal change needed to meet the threat of a more violent weather pattern in future, fuelled by climate change,” he said.
“We need funds to bolster and diversify the way we deal with the threats of flooding, and we need long term strategic vision for how to do this coupled with the best of Britain innovation to come up with technical solutions instead of expecting old cures to fix new problems.
“Not least we need funding to allow for the consequences of the very hard land sacrifice choices we will have to make to accommodate increasing flood flows in the future.”