Press release
Is Owen Paterson being upfront with flood defence figures?

The Environment Secretary’s repeated claim that “we’re spending more than ever on flood defences” is not correct, Friends of the Earth said today (Thursday 9 January 2014).
 
Friends of the Earth analysis of statements by Owen Paterson, David Cameron, Defra and Farming Minister George Eustice raises questions about whether Owen Paterson has given Parliament the full picture. 
 
The under-pressure Environment Secretary continues to say that the Government has increased its budget for flood defence schemes, even though his department and ministerial colleagues are now being upfront about the caveats to these figures.
 
Friends of the Earth Climate Campaigner Guy Shrubsole said:
 
“Owen Paterson repeatedly claims that the Government is spending more on flood defences in this spending round than any previous Government.
 
“His department and his fellow Defra minister George Eustice have conceded that the only conceivable way this claim stacks up is to include money from other hoped-for sources like cash-strapped local authorities and businesses.
 
“The Government has actually cut its flood defence spending and it is astonishing that the struggling Environment Minister continues to stand up in Parliament to trumpet that ‘this Government is spending more than ever before’.

“There are serious questions concerning what Owen Paterson has said to Parliament and how much longer he can continue to batter the Government’s credibility.”
 
Friends of the Earth analysis of figures from the Department of Food and Rural Affairs shows the Government spent £2,366m on flood defence over the four-year period from 2007-2011, slightly more than the £2,320m being spent by the Coalition over the current four-year period, 2011-2015. Furthermore, the Coalition's budget for flood defences is not inflation-proofed, meaning that it amounts to a real-terms cut.

ENDS

1. An analysis of the different statements from Owen Paterson, David Cameron, Defra and George Eustice can be found here

2. Full details of the flood defence budget figures for the last two spending rounds can be found in our blog here

3. For more than 40 years we’ve seen that the wellbeing of people and planet go hand in hand – and it’s been the inspiration for our campaigns. Together with thousands of people like you we’ve secured safer food and water, defended wildlife and natural habitats, championed the move to clean energy and acted to keep our climate stable. Be a Friend of the Earth – see things differently. For further information visit www.foe.co.uk

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Published by Friends of the Earth Trust