Communities in Kent are better protected from the possibility of flooding now than they were six years ago.
That is the conclusion of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) which today published its report on the last six years of flood protection work.
Nationally, Defra said that between 2015 and 2021 it had spent £2.6bn providing flood protection to 314,000 homes, 14,000 more than the target.
In addition, over 850 new flood and coastal erosion defense projects have been completed and over 580,000 acres of farmland have been protected.
Defra said overall the works had reduced the national flood risk by around 5% and potentially saved the economy in the area £28billion by preventing damage to homes and businesses.
Secretary of State for the Environment, George Eustice, said: “Here in the South East, between 2015 and 2021, we have invested £430m to better protect 80,600 homes.
“The Environment Agency has worked with local government to set up the Middle Medway Flood Resilience Scheme, to reduce the risk of flooding for homes at very high risk.”
He said: “This scheme was completed in November 2020 and in total the Environment Agency installed flood resilience measures in 286 homes in the Weald villages of Yalding, Collier Street, Hunton, East Farleigh, West Farleigh, Wateringbury, Marden and Nettlestead.
“These measures included anti-flood gates, anti-flood valves and pneumatic brick covers.
“Meanwhile, a beach management program covering Hythe in Folkestone has better protected 2,190 homes.”
Mr Eustice said: “Of course we know there is more to do – and that every flooded property is one property too many.
“That’s why the government has committed to doubling our investment in flood defenses to £5.2 billion over the 2021-2027 spending period.
“But,” said the Secretary of State, “We have already made tremendous progress in the Southeast and I am determined that we will continue to do so.”
Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency (EA), said: “There are very few national infrastructure programs that arrive on time, on budget and on target: I am very proud that EA succeeded.
“It’s all down to the expertise, dedication and commitment of EA’s teams and our partners across the country—they deserve the nation’s thanks.”
She said: “The flood defense is working. Although we can never protect everyone from all floods all the time, we can reduce the risk of them occurring and the impact when they do occur.
“In February of this year – and for the first time – we had three named storms in one week, and the rivers reached record heights. While some 400 properties were unfortunately flooded, more than 40,000 homes and businesses were been protected by our defences.”
She said: “With the climate emergency comes greater risk. Our response must be to protect our communities as best we can.”
The government’s new targets for 2021 and 2027 are to reduce the national flood risk by 11% and protect 550 kilometers of road and rail infrastructure, create or enhance 13,000 acres of natural habitat and improve 830 kilometers of rivers.
An evaluation of the progress of the first six-year program can be viewed here.