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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 July, 2004, 13:37 GMT 14:37 UK
Minister unveils flooding plans
In 2000, four out of every 10 affected houses were flooded by drains or ground water
Many homes are flooded by drains
Plans to tackle the growing problems of flooding and coastal erosion in England due to global warming have been published by the government.

Environment Minister Elliot Morley has unveiled a consultation paper outlining a 20-year strategy.

Following predictions of increasingly frequent and severe flooding, it examines land use, engineering and design solutions, and warning systems.

Making Space For Water also looks at protecting homes, roads and rail links.

The Association of British Insurers estimates flood-resistant materials could save people with a three-bedroom semi-detached house between 12,000 and 15,000 on repairs every time there is a flood.

Other solutions include using minor roads as flood channels, bolstering sea and river walls, and creating saltmarsh buffer zones in coastal areas and wetlands near rivers to act as flood storage areas should they burst their banks.

Climate change means we may well see more and worse flooding in the future
Environment Minister Elliot Morley

But in 2000, four out of every 10 affected houses were flooded by drains or ground water.

And the paper also considers groundwater, sewers and urban and road drainage problems.

Meanwhile, Planning Minister Keith Hill announced a review of the government's planning policy to "operate in parallel with the consultation".

The review would take account of scientific research on climate change published in the past three years, he said.

"We shall examine the new information now available and ask stakeholders to let us know their views on the clarity, implementation and effectiveness of planning guidance."

Adverse consequences

The government hopes to publish a final strategy in early 2005.

Its annual funding of the flood defence programme in England and Wales stands at a record 478m, and is set to rise to 564m for the next three years.

Mr Morley said: "Climate change means we may well see more and worse flooding in the future.

"We must factor in and plan for this across the board, working closely with the insurance industry and other interested parties, so the adverse consequences for people and for business are minimised."

The image above shows possible best and worse case scenarios for the flooding risk to Britain over the next 80 years
It was based on a government study that estimated the cost of damage from flooding and coastal erosion could rise 20 times over the next century
The report predicted the communities likely to be worst affected would be Yorkshire, Lancashire, Lincolnshire and the South East

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