The government must attract £600 million from the private sector to fund its commitment to protect 300,000 properties from floods, a group of MPs have warned.
The government has cut spending on flood defences in recent years and had aimed to gain investment from the private sector to supplement the cuts. However, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has queried the plans, citing the low levels of private funding attracted so far as cause for concern.
Anne McIntosh MP, chair of the committee, commented, “The government has committed £2.3 billion in capital funding for six years’ investment aimed at protecting 300,000 properties, but that plan relies on external contributions of £600 million.
“We support the principle that the private sector should help to fund new flood defence schemes, but we have repeatedly expressed concern about the relatively small amount of private sector funding secured to date under the Partnership Funding approach, with only £40 million of the £148 million secured up to 2014-15 coming from sources beyond local government.”
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The committee wants the government to demonstrate how it will obtain the money and the impact on its investment programme if the required money does not come forward.
The MPs also criticised the government for failing to ensure its plans are transparent because it has not identified which policies and programmes will be reduced in future years and where emergency money, such as winter flood response funding, will come from.
A previous study ranked the UK among the countries where flooding poses the greatest risk to economic output exposure because of high population density and the proximity of commercial centres, private property and infrastructure to areas of flood risk. The risks could be even greater in the future as climate change impacts continue.
Research has also predicted that flood losses across Europe could increase four-fold by 2050.
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