Between April 2014 and March 2015, 54 major new flood and coastal defence schemes will be starting construction. Over the period of this Parliament, we are spending more than £3.2 billion, compared with £2.7 billion in the previous five years, to protect this country from floods. This is one of my key priorities as Secretary of State.
I am grateful to the Secretary of State for her answer, which I am sure the communities that will benefit from the schemes will welcome. Will she ensure that work starts next year on the Lowestoft flood alleviation scheme, which will not only protect the properties that were badly damaged in last December’s storm surge but attract new investment and jobs to the town?
I enjoyed walking along Lowestoft seafront with my hon. Friend. It was rather a blustery day, but it is a fine town. I look forward to hearing further representations from him on the subject. He is a champion of the people of Lowestoft and I will listen very carefully to his representations.
May we ask this quite new Secretary of State to start doing some joined-up thinking? Is it not about time she joined up the fact that the climate change and the flooding, which we are getting globally but which is making life very hard for people in the floodplains of this country, is linked to global warming? When will she be a big beast, as I hoped she was going to be, or even a little beast, and bang the table in the Cabinet to get us back on track on fighting global warming?
I completely agree that the erratic weather patterns are linked to climate change, which is why my Department is spending a huge amount on flood defences—we are also getting value for money. We are the first Government to put in place a six-year forward-looking programme on capital expenditure for flood defences, meaning that an additional 300,000 homes will be protected.