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Flood Control

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN HL12307, tabled on 19 January 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the effectiveness of existing flood warning systems, and (2) the level of investment in flood defences.

Answered on

2 February 2021

Over 1.52 million properties in England are signed up to the Environment Agency's (EA) free flood warning service, which sends a message directly by voice message, text or email when a flood warning is issued.

Our latest assessment from September 2020 showed that the EA’s Flood Warning Service is available to 84% of those who live in areas of flood risk (target 83%).

The take up is 82% by those who are offered the service (target 80%). The EA continues to work on improving performance against measures on flood warning quality (timeliness and accuracy, message quality).

There are millions of visits every year to the online Flood Information Service. This provides the public with an opportunity to give feedback on the service provided. From July to December 2020, 61% said that they were either satisfied or very satisfied.

Direct user feedback helps to target where improvements are needed and make best use of government funding. For example, as part of the discovery work for the NeXt Warning System, the EA looked into how the current flood warning service and supporting systems are designed, support and delivered. The report proposes recommendations on how they can build a next generation flood warning system to better support the needs of the users, the business and wider government.

Since 2010 the Environment Agency (and Natural Resources Wales) has worked with telephone providers to access and automatically register landline phone numbers onto the flood warning system. The service, which automatically adds phone numbers registered in areas at risk of flooding, now encompasses all four major Mobile Network Operators – O2, Three, Vodafone and EE.

From April 2021, the new 6-year £5.2 billion capital investment programme, announced in the March 2020 Budget, will start. This will ensure a further 336,000 homes and non-residential properties such as businesses, schools and hospitals are better protected from flooding and coastal erosion.

£24.9 million of this investment will be allocated annually to run the Flood Incident Management service which directly supports costs for Flood Warnings. In addition, £23.1 million will be spent over the next 5 years for developing and enhancing the service.

The Flood and Coastal Resilience Innovation Programme has also allocated £150 million from 2021 to 2027 for ‘resilience actions’, such as tailored flood warning systems.