09:24AM, Wednesday 05 November 2014
Government spending on meeting the maintenance needs of many of the country's flood defences is insufficient, a new report has suggested.
The report, released by the National Audit Office (NAO) today, praises the Environment Agency (EA) for improving the cost effectiveness and prioritisation of its flood risk spending but warns the EA will have to make some 'difficult decisions' when it comes to maintaining some defences.
It follows some of the worst winter flooding on record at the start of this year, with Datchet and Wraysbury among the areas hit hardest.
The report suggests that maintenance funding has dropped in real terms by six per cent over the last four years, and by 10 per cent if the one-off investment of £200m made after the winter floods is excluded.
It warns that flood defences which have been given lower priority, such as in areas with fewer homes, may be in danger of deterioration and face an increased flood risk.
Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said: "The agency, as it recognizes, will need to make difficult decisions about whether to continue maintaining assets in some areas or let them lapse, increasing in future both the risk of floods and the potential need for more expensive ad-hoc emergency solutions.
"The achievement of value for money in the long term remains significantly uncertain."
In response, Flooding Minister Dan Rogerson said the NAO's conclusions on funding made 'inappropriate comparisons'.
He added: "Not only are we spending more than ever before, but we are also ensuring that our investment strategy will deliver long-term value for money."
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