The Environment Agency has announced plans to increase flood protection to 200,000 homes and businesses in England and Wales by 2015.
Launching the 2010-2015 corporate strategy at its annual conference in London, the organisation warned that more properties face an increasing risk of coastal erosion and flooding from rivers and the sea due to climate change and population growth.
The number of properties in England and Wales at significant risk of flooding could increase from 570,000 in 2009 to over 900,000 by 2035 at current levels of flood-defence investment.
Since 2007, the Environment Agency has completed 102 flood-defence schemes protecting over 63,000 additional homes in England and Wales.
Earlier this year, construction started on a £50m defence project to protect 16,000 properties in Nottingham and work has recently begun on the final stage of a £29m scheme in Weston-Super-Mare to protect 4500 homes and businesses from the risk of coastal flooding.
Work is also well underway at Dymchurch, Kent, where a £60m scheme is increasing protection to 2,471 residential properties and 7,672 hectares of agricultural land.
The Environment Agency is already planning to manage a predicted 1m rise in sea levels. The Thames Barrier and its associated schemes, which protect 1.25m people across the capital, will need to be upgraded or replaced by 2070 to cope with the effects of climate change.
By 2115, a predicted 10 per cent increase in wave heights and wind speeds will increase the threat from coastal surges.
Robert Runcie, Environment Agency director of flooding and coastal-erosion risk management, said: ‘The Environment Agency plans to protect an additional 200,000 properties in England and Wales from coastal erosion and flooding by 2015.’