The Liberal Democrats are up in arms over the government's decision to slash £14.9m from its flood defences budget.

Calling it an "incredibly foolish economy", the Liberal Democrats blasted the government's decision to make the cut after it was revealed that the Department of Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) had overspent by £200m.

The Liberal Democrats have launched a petition, calling for environment secretary David Miliband to outline his reasons and offer reassurance that further overspending will not hit flood defences and management in the future.
"Farmers, rural residents or those living in flood prone areas should not pay the price for the government's financial incompetence," the petition said.

Insurers have also expressed their concern with the government's decision.

Barry Smith, Fortis Insurance's chief executive, said: " We back the need for an industry-led solution and we believe that if Defra's planned cuts go ahead, customers will be put at risk and there will be an adverse economic impact on the country as a whole."

Arthur Philp, Norwich Union's household underwriting policy manager, said: "Unless defences are improved, insurers will not be able to continue to provide cover for flooding at affordable premiums in the worst affected areas."

The ABI has also gone on the offensive with a tough warning on coastal flooding.