To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
(1) what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of (a) creating natural wetlands, (b) the restoration of natural flood plains and (c) the use of vegetation and planting to trap and direct flood water; and what steps he is taking to encourage such methods;
(2) what area his Department added to existing (a) natural wetland, (b) restoration of natural flood plains and (c) flood defence walls to prevent flooding in populated areas in each of the last three years for which records are available;
(3) how much his Department spent on the (a) creation of natural wetland, (b) restoration of natural flood plains and (c) flood defence walls to prevent flooding in populated areas in each of the last three years for which records are available.
In 2004-05 and 2005-06 the Environment Agency spent £17.7 million on wetland habitat and species conservation in England and this included the creation of 943 hectares of Biodiversity Action Plan habitat, of which 809 hectares were floodplain habitats.
Data collation on wetland habitat creation expenditure and delivery commenced in 2004-05 and the figures for 2006-07 are not yet available.
From their records, the Environment Agency's direct expenditure on flood walls in each of the years 2003-04, 2004-05 and 2005-06 in completed major capital projects was £10.5 million, £13.7 million and £35 million respectively. The total construction cost of projects which included these walls was £31 million in 2003-04, £37.3 million in 2004-05 and £81.9 million in 2005-06.
These costs relate only to major capital projects (those with a construction cost in excess of circa £250,000) undertaken by the Environment Agency that were completed during these periods.
One of the aims of "Making Space for Water, the Government's strategy for flood and costal erosion risk management", is to work with natural processes and develop multiple objective approaches that deliver flood risk management and, where possible, other benefits such as environmental, amenity or regeneration.
"Making Space for Water" provides the policy framework for more holistic approaches to flood and coastal erosion risk management. It is drawing on the lessons learnt within the regions at numerous freshwater and saline wetland creation sites. The creation of new targets (Outcome Measures), for all operating authorities, will ensure that habitat creation and the restoration of natural flood plains form a central part of future investment decision making.