Floods: PM's bluff and bluster can't disguise Govt's short-sighted decisions
Commenting on today’s exchanges on flooding defences between David Cameron and Ed Miliband at Prime Minister’s Question Time, Friends of the Earth Climate Campaigner Guy Shrubsole said:
“The Prime Minister may bluff and bluster about cuts in flood defences, but he can’t disguise his Government’s short-sighted and disastrous decisions.
“Official figures show the Coalition spent less than the last government on flood defences. And with climate change worsening flood risk, there is now a gaping half billion pound hole between what’s been spent on defences and what’s required.
"Extra investment is always welcome, but £100m for neglected repairs is like trying to plug the leaks when the dam’s about to burst.
"A comprehensive review of flooding and climate change is urgently needed to help protect the hundreds of thousands of households already affected by the recent deluge - and the countless more at risk in future."
Notes to editors:
1. In PMQs today, the Prime Minister announced “£100m of new money” for flood defences. None of this is for capital spending on new defences; it breaks down as £75m for repairs, £10m for urgent work in Somerset, and £15m for extra maintenance.
2. The Prime Minister also claimed that the Coalition has spent £2.4bn on flood defences, and that this is more than the £2.2bn spent under the last government. This is not true. In January 2014, Defra was forced to update and correct flood defence spending figures, showing that in fact the Coalition has cut spending, and spent less than the previous government on flood defences (£2.34bn 2011-2015 as opposed to £2.37bn 2007-2011). Friends of the Earth had repeatedly pointed out the error, despite repeated claims to the contrary by the Prime Minister and his Environment Secretary.
3. The Government’s independent advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, have warned that there is a £500m gap between what the Coalition has spent on flood defences 2011-2015, and what is required if we are to keep pace with increasing flood risk due to climate change. They warn that the Government’s underinvestment will lead to an extra 250,000 homes being put at risk of flooding over the next 20 years.
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