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Government should prepare for "once in a thousand year" floods to become the norm warns Farron

November 25, 2009 12:00 AM

Floods which left parts of Cumbria devastated by its damage should not be described as a "once in a thousand year" event according to Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesperson Tim Farron MP, who has called for the Government to prepare for the fact that they will become a more regular occurrence.

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn described last week's floods as a "once in a thousand years" event. However, with annual flood damage now averaging £2.3billion per year, Mr Farron has called on the Government to take the necessary measures to prepare against the devastating impacts of flooding.

Speaking today in the House of Commons during the Queen's Speech on the environment, Tim called on the Government to recognise that flooding would become more frequent as a result of climate change and to invest in flood defences. Tim also pressed the Government to make more funding available for hydropower schemes to harness the power of Cumbria's water.

Commenting Tim said:

"Unfortunately, due to the increasing effects of climate change, severe floods that should happen once in a thousand years are now becoming a regular occurrence. You only have to look at the floods of 2007 and last week's events to understand that we can't afford to continue to dismiss the floods as 'freak' weather.

"Over the past six years, storm and flood losses in the UK have exceeded £6bn -which is twice the value of the previous period. A recent report also revealed that major urban flooding is inevitable, with costs rising up to £21bn per year later this century.

"If ministers are serious about reducing the risk of flooding, they must step up efforts to invest in flood relief schemes in areas of particular risk, such as South Lakeland, before it is too late.

"Risk assessments should be carried out on all utilities in flood risk areas and plans should be made to adapt to future flooding. All new developments should be subject to regulation as to where they can be sited, the presumption given to be against locations on flood plains.

"The Government should also be looking to invest more in hydro schemes to allow us to harness the potential and the immense power of Cumbria's water."