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Flood Defences

Volume 684: debated on Thursday 26 November 2020

What steps he is taking to ensure that local authorities have the resources to build adequate flood defences. (909305)

The Government are currently investing £2.6 billion between 2015 and 2021, approximately £650 million of which will be allocated to local authorities. Between 2021 and 2027, we will invest £5.2 billion in flood and coastal defences, in addition to a £200 million resilience innovation fund, which were all mentioned yesterday in the spending review. In July 2020, we announced an additional £170 million to accelerate shovel-ready flood defence schemes. Funding for projects is allocated according to the rules governing DEFRA’s existing six-year capital programme.

Maw Green Road in my constituency has been hit by severe flooding. In fact, residents have been seen canoeing their way out. Cheshire East local authority has not been successful in its applications for financial support to tackle this issue. Will the Minister agree to meet me to look at its proposals to see what we can do to support it financially so that it can tackle this matter?

We all understand the difficulties that flooding can bring and my hon. Friend is right to raise it. I understand that the Environment Agency recently attended a meeting with the Lead Local Flood Authority to address the surface water flooding in Maw Green Road, and that the LLFA is pursuing specific actions to address the situation, including seeking Department for Transport funding to alleviate flooding under the railway bridge upstream. Therefore, no DEFRA floods funding has been applied for in this location, but, obviously, I am happy to have a chat with him and look into this matter.

The environmental land management scheme could do much to help stop flooding, especially flash flooding. How advanced is the ELM scheme, and when will we hear about it? In the future, can we ensure that the payments are enough, so that people can farm water as part of their farming practice?

My hon. Friend, I know, speaks from experience as he has a farm right by a lot of water, so he raises a very important point. May I just say, Mr Speaker, that we have tremendous support on the Conservative Benches today, which I think demonstrates the understanding of these issues. My hon. Friend was right to raise the ELM scheme. Our future farming policy will be centred on support aimed at incentivising sustainable farming practice; creating habitats for nature recovery; and establishing new woodland ecosystem services to help tackle climate change. We will help farmers to deliver environmental public goods, which, of course, bring in things such as natural flood management, which he has mentioned. They will be an important part of our new future, with things such as leaky dams, slowing the flow and, of course mixed in there, good soil management, which is something that is very dear to my heart.