Calls to fill £700m hole in flood defence investment

The Treasury is under pressure from a cross-party group of MPs to improve investment in flood defences.

Forty-nine MPs have so far put their names to a motion backing the ABI's demands that "investment [in flood defences] must continue to rise in real terms over a sustained period".

The Early Day Motion has been tabled by Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Norman Baker, whose Lewes constituency has suffered from floods. The area is one of many denied comprehensive flood defences because of an

estimated £700m shortfall in the cash the government is prepared to spend.

An EDM is a form of petition which allow MPs to raise issues in Parliament and rally colleagues to their cause, in a bid to signal strength of feeling to the government

Baker is rallying flood groups from across the country to lobby the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, about the lack of funding.

He said: "It is clear that the Treasury is not allocating sufficient resources to this area, with the consequence that the country is picking up an ever-increasing bill every year for flood damage.

"If the Chancellor can find £6bn for a war in Iraq, he can surely find £700m for proper flood defences for people in this country."

MPs from all three main parties have signed the motion, which highlights increased flooding levels and the expected further impact of climate change.

A study commissioned by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in 2004 found the government's committed spending to tackle flooding was £700m short of what was required.

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Homeowners could get money to protect their property
Homeowners in flood-risk areas could be given cash to improve their property's resilience to flooding under government proposals.

Ministers are drawing up plans to help individual householders in areas that do not qualify for permanent flood defences.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is hoping to create a fund for residents to carry out their own improvements to homes.

Defra Minister Jim Knight said: "We are exploring whether it will be practical to provide some form of financial assistance to households in areas where community defences cannot be justified to make their homes more flood-resilient and flood-resistant."