Details of Government plans to assist individuals and businesses to better protect their property from the impacts of flooding have been outlined by the Environment Secretary today.
Visiting a flood affected neighbourhood in Leeds today, Hilary Benn saw first hand how the impacts of flooding on homes and businesses can be reduced by using a range of methods that help to keep flood water out of your home , and also reduce damage if water enters a property.
Under new plans the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will commit £125,000 to the development of an interactive website and phone line service in conjunction with the Environment Agency. This will provide individuals and businesses with the advice and information they need to protect their homes and premises from flooding. Proposals to provide a Government grant to help people bear some of the costs involved with implementing such measures, for example through a free home flood survey, will also form the basis of a public consultation in a few weeks time.
Secretary of State for the Environment, Hilary Benn said: “Following the events of last summer, people are rightly concerned about how they can protect themselves from future flooding. There is much that can be done to lessen the impact of flooding on both residential and business properties, if people have the right advice and help to do this. Doing so can also help to improve the terms of your insurance. The forthcoming website and the proposed grant scheme will go some way in ensuring that people are supported to make the right choices for their properties.
“Research we are publishing today reveals that only one-third of at-risk households who have been flooded in the past have taken any steps to reduce the impact of flooding on their property or possessions, and less than one-in-ten of at-risk households who have not been flooded have taken steps to protect themselves.
“Government has invested more than £5 billion in flood and coastal erosion risk management over the past 12 years and will invest more than £800 million per year by 2010/11, but as Sir Michael Pitt said in his interim report people must also play a part in ensuring they are protecting themselves from the risk of flooding. The overall finding from our resilience pilots is that much can be achieved if we can help people to help themselves.”
Last year six areas in England were selected to take part in Defra’s flood resilience pilot funding scheme, which provided practical measures for a range of different properties and flooding issues. The Department committed a total of £500,000 to these schemes, which are now complete. Today Mr Benn is visiting the site of one of these pilots at the Dunhill Estate in Halton, Leeds.
Environment Agency Chairman, Sir John Harman, said: "It's a matter for serious concern that people are often unaware of the measures they can take to lessen the danger and devastation that floods can bring. We can't stop the rain but we can reduce the impacts of flooding, so we all need to be ready. This website will allow people to understand better the information we and others already provide and practical actions they can take."
Nick Starling, Director of General Insurance and Health at the ABI, said: "Making homes and businesses more resistant and resilient to flooding is becoming increasingly important. The more help available to property owners to protect against flood, the less likely they are to suffer the misery and financial trauma of flooding."
Mary Dhonau Chief Executive of the National Flood Forum said: “The National Flood Forum have been working closely with Defra on this project and I am delighted that Government is investing money to help individuals at risk of flooding in such a proactive way. My home has been flooded on several occasions; so I understand how devastating and confusing the whole experience can be, particularly when it comes to knowing what to do to protect your home from future flooding. I look forward to consulting with Defra on a way forward with this issue.”