20 March 2014
Chancellor allocates £140 million of new money. Is it enough?
Sue Illman, president of the Landscape Institute, has issued a response to George Osborne's budget announcement.
She says, 'The LI recently wrote to the Prime Minister in connection with the government’s approach to flooding saying that we needed a comprehensive and integrated range of water management techniques.
'Whilst we welcome the monies being allocated, it is as yet unclear whether the £140 million identified for this year will be sufficient. Similarly, we welcome the principle of a long-term strategy but until this is reviewed it is impossible to know that the budget allocation will be adequate against further extreme events. It is easy for people to forget the huge anxiety and chaos caused by the flooding earlier this year, when the spring sun is shining.
'We must have a proper exploration of the larger catchment management issues, and how forestry, land management and soft engineered flood alleviation schemes can hold back water in the upper reaches of rivers.'
The element in the budget statement on flooding was as follows:
'Many parts of the UK have been subjected to severe flooding. Budget 2014 provides £140 million of new funding to repair and restore the condition of vital flood defences that have suffered damage. This complements the government’s long-term strategy, which in Spending Round 2013 allocated capital funding of £2.3 billion from 2015, allowing an increase in annual investment of 15% in real terms on that over the current spending period, even with the extra short-term funding allocated in this Budget. The government is developing a long-term plan that will direct this investment to protect the country from future flooding and will publish this in the autumn.'
Other elements of the budget statement that are of particular interest to landscape professionals include:
• New homes proposed in Barking Riverside, regeneration at Brent Cross and a new ‘Garden City’ at Ebbsfleet and publishing a prospectus for future garden cities;
• No VAT reduction for restoration and refurbishment work.