MPs said problems with Environment Agency played large part in failure to protect homeowners in summer floods

The state of English flood defences has not improved markedly in the last five years, despite a 40% increase in funding for the body charged with looking after it, a committee of MPs has reported.

Edward Leigh MP, chair of the Treasury Public Accounts Committee, said problems with the Environment Agency played a large part in the failure to protect homeowners from this summer’s floods. A report into river and coastal flood defences by the committee, published today, finds that the condition of over half of the high-risk flood defences in the country doesn’t meet government standards.

Funding for the Environment Agency, responsible for maintaining flood defences, has risen to £483m in 2006/7, and is set to rise still further to reach £800 million per annum in 2010/11. Leigh said: “the poor track record of the Environment Agency in prioritising spending on the areas most likely to be flooded and the defences needed to protect them will raise doubts whether the new money will be spent to best effect.”

He said the Agency needed to take control of local drainage plans, and seek new statutory powers to intervene if partners failed to co-operate.