Engineering consultancy Atkins has called for the Government to protect investment in flood defences when it cuts public spending.
Widespread spending cuts are expected whichever party wins this year’s General Election due to the level of the national debt.
But the Environment Agency this week estimated the overall cost to the UK economy of the 2007 floods at more than £3 billion, and Atkins said spending to prevent similar cases in the future was was vital.
Mike Woolgar, managing director of Atkins’ environmental and water management business, said: “The Government must ensure that flood funding is visible, sufficient and guaranteed so that the Environment Agency and its partners can continue to take a structured, planned and consistent approach to safeguard our homes, communities and infrastructure.
“Benefit/cost ratios and return on investment for funded flood defences are very high and, as the Stern Review into climate change mitigation highlights, the benefits of strong, early action outweigh the costs.
“It will be much more cost-effective to channel investment into structured flood mitigation plans now to prevent future flood devastation than just to respond to the most recent disaster.”
Environment Agency director of flood and coastal risk management Robert Runcie said: “The 2007 flood cost homeowners, businesses, emergency services and others some £3.2bn.
“The high costs of flooding underline the importance of continued investment in reducing flood risk, particularly as climate change means that we are likely to see more severe and frequent flooding in future.”