We have completed 130 new flood schemes this year, protecting over 55,000 households. All but three of the 660 Environment Agency flood defences damaged last winter have now been repaired and the three remaining assets have contingency plans in place. The Environment Agency recently launched its flood awareness campaign and last month we launched the property level resilience action plan on how householders can protect their homes from flooding. It also details measures that will allow them to get back into their home more quickly if they are, unfortunately, flooded.
This year, after the devastation caused by storms Desmond, Eva and Frank right across the country, the Government announced an extra £700 million of flood defence spending, but apart from saying £12 million of that would be spent on mobile flood defences to protect electricity and infrastructure assets, there has not been a clear plan from the Government about how the money is going to be spent. The Environmental Audit Committee made strong recommendations on the protection of roads and railways, and with Devon and Cornwall, the north-east and Scotland suffering landslips and ballast washaways in the recent flooding, is not now the time to set out a proper transport infrastructure resilience plan for the whole country?
The Minister may recall that in December 2013 there was a tidal surge that affected the Humber estuary. Many of my constituents had their homes flooded, and throughout the Humber hundreds were affected. Can the Minister reassure me that there will be no slippage in future flood defence spending on the Humber?
I learned recently that water companies are not a statutory consultee, despite companies such as Severn Trent Water wanting to be and having a great deal of knowledge not only about flooding areas, but also about, for example, whether storm drains can cope with additional water created by new building. Will the Minister have a conversation with her opposite numbers in the Department for Communities and Local Government about changing things so that water companies can be a statutory consultee?
I recognise that water companies are not currently a statutory consultee, but that does not stop them having conversations. The Environment Agency continues to provide advice on all planning applications, and in 98% of planning applications across England its advice is accepted.