Government pledges £40m to repair and improve flood defences

The government has pledged more than £40 million to rebuild and improve flood defences in the aftermath of Storm Eva.

The package brings the total investment in recovery from both Storm Eva and Storm Desmond to nearly £200 million. £10 million of the new funding will be reserved to improve the Foss Barrier in York, with the other £30 million to be spent repairing defences on the Wharfe, Calder, Aire, Ouse and Derwent, including clearing blockages in rivers.

Grants will also be available to reimburse fire and rescue authorities that have incurred large costs protecting flooded communities.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “I have seen at first-hand the devastation caused by flooding. And that’s why this work to repair and improve flood defences is so vital.

“We are already spending £280 million over the next six years to protect thousands of houses from flooding in Yorkshire as part of our £2.3 billion investment to protect 300,000 houses across the country.

“But now more than £40 million will be spent to fix those defences overwhelmed by the record rainfall we’ve seen in recent weeks and to make them more resilient to further bad weather.”

However, the cash injection has been described as a ‘short term, sticking plaster approach’ by Labour’s environment, food and rural affairs spokeswoman Kerry McCarthy.

She said: “The government has been woefully complacent about the flood risk, ignoring warnings from its own experts. Today’s announcement of £40 million won’t go very far at all.”

Liberal democrat leader Tim Farron was also critical, describing the extra funding as a ‘small down payment’, as the estimated repair bill is more in the region of £500 million.

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