A further £20m a year needs to be spent on flood defences to keep pace with climate change, according to a new report from a climate change body. If this does not happen, the number of homes and businesses at the highest risk of flooding could almost double to 610,000 from its current level of 330,000 in the next 20 years.
The report by the Adaptation Sub-Committee (ASC) of the Committee for Climate Change, which advises the government, found that the number of properties built on flood plains has increased by 12% over the past 10 years, compared with a 7% rise outside flood-affected areas.
Citing figures from the Environment Agency, The ASC noted that at the same time, funding for flood defences from both public and private sources is decreasing. It was 12% lower for the current spending period compared with the previous period, after inflation.
Take-up of measures to protect individual properties from flooding is 20 to 35 times lower than the rate required to safeguard all properties that could benefit, the report said.
The ASC estimates that if the additional £20m was spent on flood defences, only 160,000 properties would be at significant risk of flooding by 2035.
ASC chairman Lord John Krebs said in a statement: “We must take adaptation more seriously if we are to manage the growing risks of floods and droughts. This can be done by investing more in flood defences, faster roll-out of water meters and giving serious consideration to where and how we build our housing and infrastructure.
“Without action by households and businesses to prepare for these inevitable weather extremes the country faces rising costs, unnecessary damage and future disruption.”