A package of £40m has been promised by the government to fix Britain's flood defences in areas devastated by storm Eva over Christmas.
“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," said Prime Minister David Cameron.
“We are already spending £280m over the next six years to protect thousands of houses from flooding in Yorkshire as part of our £2.3bn investment to protect 300,000 houses across the country. But now more than £40m 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.”
Some £10m will be spent on fixing flood defences in York where the Foss barrier was lifted due to the risk of electrical failure from flood water entering the building. The rest will go on defences on the Calder, Aire, Ouse, Derwent and Wharfe rivers in Yorkshire.
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron and shadow environment secretary Kerry McCarthy both criticised the pledge as too little too late.
The funding comes at the same time it emerged documents were shown to ministers in November warning that a long-term approach was needed for flood spending with "extreme weather events [becoming] more frequent and unpredictable".
The Observer reports the Association of Drainage Authorities document said:
“We have had the five wettest years since 2000. The Environment Agency’s funding for maintaining flood assets has fallen by 14 per cent. Downward adjustments have also been made to intended revenue spending commitments.”
“Failure of assets and networks is more likely as extreme weather events become more frequent and unpredictable. We must change our approach to managing water level management assets and systems … adopting a more long-term approach.”
“Annual flood and storm damage costs are approximately £1.1bn, according to the Association of British Insurers, and those households at significant risk [of flood damage] through a reduction in our capacity to manage water levels could increase from 330,000 today to 570,000 in 2035.”
There are still 42 flood warnings in place across England, Scotland and Wales as further rainfall is expected on Sunday and Monday in some places, according to the Met Office.