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Flood Control

Volume 481: debated on Monday 27 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many flood protection schemes have been (a) postponed and (b) delayed in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. (224220)

[holding answer 17 September 2008]: DEFRA has overall policy responsibility for flood risk management and provides funding for schemes to Operating Authorities (Environment Agency, local authorities and Internal Drainage Boards). The funding for flood risk has been administered by the Environment Agency since April 2006. Information on potential projects is collected from operating authorities and the Environment Agency decide which projects to promote and their timing to meet the targets set by DEFRA. Since the projects are not formally approved until funding is confirmed none will have been postponed or have had their commencement delayed.

Some projects do, however, take longer to deliver than is originally envisaged. From 2004-08 the Environment Agency's National Capital Programme Management Service was responsible for a total of 146 completed projects. Of these, 83 were completed early or on time and 63 were completed after the expected date. 70 per cent. of these projects were delivered within two months of the expected completion date.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what priorities he has set for reducing flood risk in (a) urban and rural areas. (228706)

The Environment Agency allocates funding to Regional Flood Defence Committees for both new capital schemes and to maintain existing defences on the basis of national priorities to ensure that the funding is spent to optimum effect. This inevitably means that the allocation to each Regional Flood Defence Committee is likely to change year on year, particularly as capital schemes are completed.

Projects in sparsely populated areas will tend to score less highly than projects which protect larger numbers of people or higher asset values for a given cost.

DEFRA is working with the Environment Agency, other operating authorities and stakeholders to develop a prioritisation process for the capital programme. There will be no explicit geographic element to the allocation of funds which will be done to maximise the benefit achieved from the programme on a national basis. Allocation of funds for maintenance works is undertaken by the Environment Agency on the basis of their asset management strategy which takes account of risk; again there is no geographic element.