Flood protection plans for English homes cut by 40%

Flood protection plans for English homes cut by 40%

15 November 2023

The number of properties that will be better protected from flooding by 2027 has been cut by 40%, and 500 of 2,000 new flood defence projects have been abandoned, according to the National Audit Office (NAO).

The number of homes forecast to be under enhanced flood protection by 2027 has been slashed from 336,000 to 200,000. This means 136,000 more homes will be at risk of flooding since plans were drawn up in 2020, figures from an NAO report show.

Despite the government doubling its capital funding in England to £5.2bn to combat the danger of flooding, a quarter of new flood defence projects will now not go ahead. The Environment Agency (EA) has blamed inflation for the cuts in protection.

Thousands of homes have been flooded during storms this autumn. Storm Babet was confirmed to have caused more than 2,000 homes to flood, while Storm Ciarán flooded more than 1,000. Storm Debi, which is causing havoc in Ireland, is expected to hit the west of England this week. Climate experts say storms are becoming more frequent and severe due to climate breakdown.

The EA has added protection from floods to 59,000 properties in England since 2020. It had a target of protecting 336,000 homes by 2027.

A shortfall in the agency’s finances means it cannot keep enough flood protections in the required condition to prevent destruction to homes. Due to inflation, the EA is £34m short of its expected budget, which means it will be able to maintain only 94% to 95% of its assets at the required condition, resulting in 203,000 properties at increased risk of flooding. It had aimed to maintain 98% of its high-consequence assets at their required condition.

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