Government unveils £5.2bn scheme to tackle flood risk in England

The government has unveiled a £5.2bn programme to create around 2,000 new flood and coastal defences to better protect 336,000 properties in England by 2027, alongside support to help households and businesses get back on their feet more quickly after flooding. Meanwhile the Environment Agency published a long-term Flood and Coast Erosion Risk Management Strategy for England, setting out how it will work with communities to deliver the government’s plan.

The long-term plan set out five key commitments to accelerate progress to better protect and better prepare the country for the coming years.

  • Upgrading and expanding flood defences and infrastructure across the country.

  • Managing the flow of water to both reduce flood risk and manage drought – “As flood mitigation and water management go hand-in-hand, we will ensure an integrated approach, for example storing upstream to prevent flooding during heavy rainfall, then capturing this water for use during dry weather.”

  • Harnessing the power of nature to not only reduce flood risk, but deliver benefits for the environment, nature, and communities – “Planting trees, restoring peatland and wetlands, and properly managing soil can all contribute to reducing flood risk, while providing benefits for the climate, nature, and society.” There was a commitment to double the number of government funded projects which include “nature-based solutions”. “The Environmental Land Management scheme, Nature for Climate Fund, and English Tree Strategy will all play a part in reducing flood risk for local communities, while providing them with green spaces to enjoy and habitats for wildlife.”

  • Better preparing communities for when flooding and erosion does occur.

  • Ensuring every area of England has a comprehensive local plan for dealing with flooding and coastal erosion.

Other elements of the lan included changes to the joint government and insurance industry Flood Re scheme, the inclusion of “innovative projects” and funding to kick start shovel-ready flood defence schemes.

Flood Re

The programme set out possible changes to the Flood Re scheme to allow claims to include an additional amount to cover the inclusion of flood resilience measures in repairs, and allow households that have property flood resilience measures in place to benefit from lower premiums.


A proposed £200m fund would cover “innovative projects” such as sustainable drainage systems and nature-based solutions like temporary or permanent water storage areas which also boost wildlife. These will support 25 areas at risk of flooding to test and demonstrate innovative actions to adapt to a changing climate and improve their resilience.

Shovel-ready schemes

A £170m fund would accelerate work on shovel-ready flood defence schemes that will begin construction in 2020 or 2021. 22 areas across the country will benefit from this immediate boost to jobs supporting the local economy as communities recover from the impact of coronavirus.