2,500 homes at risk of flooding
5:30am Friday 28th February 2014 in By Beren Cross, @BerenCross
MORE than 2,500 homes are at risk of flooding in Swindon, according to figures released by environmental network Friends of the Earth.
Using data from the Environment Agency, FOE has identified 1,695 homes under threat in the North Swindon constituency, with 809 under threat in the South Swindon constituency.
The FOE has also said there are 540 homes spread across both constituencies which are at significant risk.
The network of environmental organisations has said it is concerned these homes will not be protected in the future unless significant investment is made by the Government to guard against the effects of climate change and more frequent storms, similar to those experienced this winter.
Mike Birkin, FOE South West campaigner, said: “There’s no doubt about it, if you look at what climate scientists say, this is very much the shape of things to come – milder and wetter weather, which will be less predictable.
“So it’s not going to be good enough for the Government to be planning for the future defences on just the results from the last few years.
“The indications we are now getting show we could be vulnerable to periods of very intense rain.
“You need to invest in the traditional forms of flood defence, but the Government needs to step it up a gear. The way that we farm needs to be looked at. The amount of water risking properties in Swindon will be directly affected by the way farmers do their business up the cycle. The rate of water flowing into rivers needs to be slowed down.”
Mr Birkin said the figures released through the Environment Agency do not factor in climate change and the risk of more water affecting more houses. He said the storms we experience once in every 50 years, which we can deal with, will become more frequent and place excessive demands on the existing defences. This increase in frequency is not being accounted for, according to FOE and Mr Birkin.
Justin Tomlinson, MP for North Swindon, moved to ease any concerns. He drew attention to the age of the data used by FOE and pointed to the investments already put into flood alleviation in the town.
“It’s right that Friends of the Earth draw attention to this data. This is exactly why we secured the £14m funding for the Haydon Wick flood alleviation works which assist a large chunk of that number quoted,” he said.
“We are also working with councillor Dale Heenan and making progress with continuous improvements on the Dorcan flood alleviation works. £300,000 was secured on Monday evening by Dale at the council for the Dorcan scheme.”
Robert Buckland, MP for South Swindon, said: “I am already working with local agencies and residents on a number of localised flooding issues.
“The recent floods are a wake-up call on the need to do more to protect households from climate change. Flood defence plans must take into account the expected impacts of climate change, like more rainfall and higher sea levels.
“We also need a renewed focus on tackling climate change as well as preparing for it.”
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