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Pitt calls for long-term flood investment

Investment in flood mitigation and defence should be planned over 25 years, on a par with Government infrastructure programmes such as Building Schools for The Future, according to Sir Michael Pitt.

Sir Michael was last year asked by Government to review the cause and effects of the 2007 floods in England and make recommendations on how to improve flood risk management in the future.

His final report released today, Learning lessons from the 2007 floods, calls for flooding to be managed at the same level as terrorism and pandemic flu.

The report says: “A long-term investment strategy should set out the investment needs for flood risk management in England within a policy framework for delivering long-term, sustainable flood risk mitigation measures.

“It should provide the broad framework for the programme and timetable for investment, with the understanding that more detail will be available for the years immediately ahead. The approach would be similar to the Government BSF programme of its 10-year transport funding programme.”

At the report launch Sir Michael suggested that the £34.5 million that Government had held back to implement his report's 92 recommendations – which call for changes in building regulations and for local authorities to invest more in tackling surface water flooding – would not be sufficient.

"I don’t think it will be enough" however added that Environment Agency plans to increase funding for flood defences from the £600 million this year to £800m by 2010/11 was “in the right direction”.

But he added: “The Government should extrapolate that into the future.”

Sir Michael said local authorities would need to have discussions with Government as to how they thought they could fund and resource their new responsibilities, as part of Revenue Support Grant negotiations.

He added that councils must also review their in-house technical abilities and attempt to recruit more engineers.

For more on the Review recommendations and what it might mean for contractors see the July 3 issue of Construction News.

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