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East Midlands loses out on funding to protect against flooding

In the wake of recent storms, councils across the East Midlands are calling for more funding to protect against flooding.

Following a National Audit Office report which confirms that the region is losing out on much-needed funding to protect against flooding, East Midlands Councils (EMC), a body which represents local authorities across the region, is calling on the Government to update the model for investment in flood defences.

The NAO’s analysis of the Environment Agency’s investment programme confirms that the East Midlands receives almost the lowest level funding per property at risk at £3,227, despite large areas of the region being vulnerable to fluvial (river), surface water, and coastal flooding.

This compares unfavourably to North East which receives almost 4 times as much at £12,563 per property and the North West at £10,204.

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Cllr Martin Hill, Chair of EMC, and leader of Lincolnshire County Council said:“For many towns and villages in the East Midlands, it is becoming almost impossible to secure the necessary investment to protect homes and businesses.

“While proposed flood defence schemes in the East Midlands inevitably stall, we are seeing funding increasingly skewed to other parts of the country.

“East Midlands Councils have written to the Government highlighting these concerns, including with the Government’s model for investment and business case appraisal that has made it increasingly difficult to secure funding despite a clear need and the obvious value for money that our region offers”.

Cllr James Naish, EMC Executive Board Member and Leader of Bassetlaw District Council, said:“The NAO report clearly shows that it is time to overhaul the funding model for flood defences.

“According to Environment Agency data, just 120 extra properties across Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire were protected from flooding in 2022/23. This is a much lower figure than in other more affluent parts of the country.

“This is despite East Midlands counties being some of the areas worst hit by recent storms and being promised millions of pounds of extra investment to make them more resilient.

“Our communities are no longer willing to be treated as collateral damage for funding failures. It is time for the Government to overhaul the system to make sure that the shackles blocking the Environment Agency are broken, so they can invest where there is a demonstrable need to reduce frequent flooding.”

In recent months, the East Midlands has battled Storm Babet, Storm Henk, Storm Isha, and Storm Jocelyn, which have caused major disruption due to flooding, leading to major evacuations, emergency responses and clean-up operations.

Last year, the East Midlands All Party Parliamentary Group consisting of MPs from across the region published a report on the wider social and economic benefits of major infrastructure investment in the region which highlighted the need for more investment in flood defences.

EMC has been warning about the dangers of increased flooding for some time, producing a major report with the Met Office in 2015 (Changing Nature of Flooding in the East Midlands) which outlined the key challenges facing region over the next decades, and areas where an enhanced response will be required to protect against flooding.

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