Is your area prepared for climate change?
Flooding may be off the front pages, but that doesn't mean the problem's suddenly gone away.
With the Government projecting that climate change could put a million more people at significant risk of flooding by the 2020s, it's vital that every community gets prepared.
This week, the Environment Agency and the British army completed a review of UK flood defences, revealing that at least 1000 defences were damaged by storms and floods during the wettest winter ever.
But Friends of the Earth's investigations suggest that many of these flood defences were already in a poor state of repair before the winter floods struck. Data obtained from the Environment Agency show that 860 defences were already below maintenance standards in September last year. That's not surprising when Environment Agency maintenance budgets had been slashed as a result of government cuts.
These developments come on top of the Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, slashing the number of staff working on climate change adaptation from 38 to just 6, and cutting Defra's domestic climate change budget by 40% in the last year. And they follow on from Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, scrapping the duty for councils to plan for climate change, back in 2010.
All in all, not great indicators of a nation that's seriously preparing for worse flooding and extreme weather as climate change hits. So we decided something needed to be done. If the government isn't going to take preparations for climate change seriously, we will.
Over the next few weeks, we'll be bringing you reports from the frontline of climate change in the UK. We're visiting flood-risk communities across Britain and linking up with our network of local groups based around the country.
We'll be visiting Taunton, Hull, Bournemouth, Eastbourne, and Oxford, and talking to groups at our South East and South West regional gatherings this weekend. We'll be hearing stories from these communities, collecting information, and trying to answer the question: How prepared are we for climate change?
We'll be putting up blogs - and hosting guest blogs - here on the Friends of the Earth website. You can join our journey on Twitter by following @guyshrubsole and @ted35burke. And if you'd like to share stories about how prepared - or unprepared - your community is for climate change, please do get in touch with us: guy.shrubsole [at] foe.co.uk. We look forward to hearing from you.
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