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Volume 495: debated on Monday 6 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the likely effects on levels of flood risk of the scenarios shown in the most recent UK climate projections. (283231)

The UK Climate Projections 2009 (UKCP09) show that the climate in the UK is likely to change, and present probabilities for different potential climate outcomes. This information will help flood and coastal erosion risk management operating authorities, such as the Environment Agency, improve their risk-based decision making.

The parameters that are available from UKCP09 do not allow direct estimation of flood risk. Further synthesis and modelling will be necessary to assess the likely effects on levels of flood risk under the different UKCP09 projections.

However, DEFRA and the Environment Agency are currently managing two linked research projects, which aim to provide a better understanding of what the projections will mean for future river flows and how the information can be best used in decision making.

The Environment Agency recently published its Long Term Investment Strategy. This suggested flood and coastal risk management expenditure needs to increase to £1,040 million a year by 2035, plus inflation, in order to counter expected climate change and avoid more properties being placed at significant risk. This is compared to the £570 million to be spent on asset management and improvement in 2010-11. The climate scenarios used in the investment strategy are consistent with the latest climate projections data.

We expect the UKCP09 projections to be used in future assessments of flood and coastal risks, and in risk management plans, strategies and projects, such as the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment.