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Minister David Heath sees how Somerset village is ready for floods

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: September 28, 2012

David Heath visited Congresbury yesterday

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Environment Minister David Heath met families affected by Monday’s floods when he visited Congresbury yesterday.

He also saw flood defences and learned about the work of the volunteer resilience project in the North Somerset village, which could be introduced in other areas.

His visit followed an warning by the Environment Agency that it needs a year-on-year increase of £20 million on top of inflation to maintain the level of flood protection.

But flood defence spending is 12 per cent below the last spending review period, with a gap opening of £860 million between what that pledged for 2011-2015 and what is needed to keep the same number of properties protected.

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In May last year, Defra changed the way funding is allocated to flood projects, with money available to any number of schemes, provided a third party, such as a local authority or business meets the full cost of the scheme.

A Defra spokesman said: “We are on track to exceed our target to deliver better protection to 145,000 households by March 2015. We expect to spend at least £2.17 billion on flooding and coastal erosion during the current spending period.

“The funding model has secured an extra £72 million of external funding.”

Thee Committee on Climate Change says 610,000 properties will be at significant risk of flooding by 2035 without action, four times more than if there was increased investment in flood defences.

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