According to recent research by Unearthed, the investigative arm of Greenpeace UK, over 4,000 flood defences in England are in poor condition as of 2023. Of these, 856 defences are rated very poor, while 3,348 are considered poor. These defences are critical structures that protect lives and properties in some of the most flood-prone areas in the country.

The research found that over a quarter of the high-consequence flood defences are privately owned and maintained by unnamed third parties. These defences are almost twice as likely to be in poor condition as those held by the Environment Agency.

The impact of climate change is also a concern, as increased flooding is one of England’s most significant risks. Flooding already causes £700m of damage per year in the UK and this could increase by a fifth if climate change continues. Storm Babet, which hit the UK in October 2023, caused record rainfall and flooding in parts of the East Midlands, Yorkshire, Suffolk, and Lincolnshire. This has led some MPs to call for a review of the Environment Agency’s handling of flood risk.


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