An average annual investment of £1 billion will be necessary up to 2065 to protect properties and infrastructure in England from increasing flood damage.
That’s the verdict from the Environment Agency, which has published new evidence to plan for flood and coastal risks in the future, using climate change, population and mapping data to calculate the dangers.
The organisation is investing £2.6 billion in flood and coastal erosion risk management projects between 2015 and 2021, helping to protect 300,000 homes – it is now working out how funding can be best allocated.
It says necessary measures include building and maintaining large-scale engineered defences, natural flood management techniques such as planting trees and slowing the flow of water and property flood resilience for homes.
The Environment Agency says the overall benefit-to-cost ratio of the new estimates is nine-to-one, which means for every £1 spent on protecting communities, around £9 in property damages and wider impacts would be avoided.
The organisation stresses it is particularly important to protect transport and utility networks, 41% of which are located in areas which are at risk of flooding.
Julie Foley, Director Flood Strategy at the Environment Agency, said: “This report sets out the level of investment we need to consider over the next 50 years alongside the action we need to take to ensure that communities, businesses and vital infrastructure are resilient to flooding and coastal erosion.
“The scenarios are a key evidence base to inform our Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy, due later this year, and will help government, businesses and the insurance industry plan for the future.”